J.R. Norris Grabs Another Second, Still Chasing Championship Norris Wants to Dethrone NASCAR AutoZone Southeast Series Champ Jeff Fultz HUEYTOWN, AL (August 9, 2004) -- NASCAR Southeast Series rookie J.R. Norris simply ran out of time. In fact,...
J.R. Norris Grabs Another Second, Still Chasing Championship
Norris Wants to Dethrone NASCAR AutoZone Southeast Series Champ Jeff Fultz
HUEYTOWN, AL (August 9, 2004) -- NASCAR Southeast Series rookie J.R. Norris simply ran out of time. In fact, he came up about 10-laps short on Saturday night of collecting his second-career NASCAR Southeast Series victory. Instead he settled for another podium finish, a second-place effort at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. Now, with just three races remaining in the Southeast Series season, Norris finds himself trailing points' leader Jeff Fultz by just 42 points.
"We are doing pretty good and running well in the rookie deal but I really want the championship as bad or more than I want the Rookie of the Year," said the 24-year-old Norris. "We've got three more races to try and make it happen. Anything can happen. This is big-time motorsports."
Norris was in the middle of making a charge to the front at "the Beach" on Saturday night when the laps ran out on him. J.R. was able to pass Erik Darnell at the checkers for second place and, with a few more laps, might have had something for eventual race winner Fultz.
"We had a good car. The car was handling up to par and better than most cars out there. It stayed the same and they fell off a bunch at the end. If I would have had a few more laps, I think I could have got 'Fultzy' too.
"On that last lap, I knew the only chance I was going to have to grab second was going to the outside of Erik (Darnell). I knew Erik was going to hug the bottom, so I made a move to the outside and the car stuck pretty good so I was able to get him at the line."
Norris, who has been in second in the points for much of the second half of the season, lost just a few points to Fultz in the title chase.
"I'm happy that I'm getting points, but I'm losing points to him (Fultz) at the same point. He's been so strong the last part of the year that it is going to be hard to beat him. It is hard to find the line between racing hard for the win and thinking about the points deal. You have to think the whole time, 'Do I need to do this? Do I need to do that? Is that a safe move?' I had to make a couple of 'safe moves' out there tonight. I guess I'm pretty happy all in all.
"I've got to be smart these last couple of races. I can't lose any ground. Fultz has a little breathing room now, but I'm still real close with Erik. I can't lose site of third place either.
"I've gotten a lot smarter this year. I drive a lot smarter. In Southern All Stars (where J.R. raced the last few years), you have to think, but you have to run 'balls out' or you'll get run over. Richie (Wauters, Norris' car owner) has taught me a lot on how to be there at the end of the races. I've learned how to race both smart and hard at the same time."
The Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Southeast Series is one of the prizes JR Norris has his eye on in 2004, although he is also aiming for the championship in a combined effort with car owner Richie Wauters.