J.R. NORRIS DRIVES TO SECOND STRAIGHT VICTORY IN DOMINANT FASHION AT NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY ON FRIDAY NIGHT LEBANNON, Tenn. ( June 11, 2005) -- J.R. Norris is pretty much getting the knack about getting around the 1.33-mile Nashville ...
J.R. NORRIS DRIVES TO SECOND STRAIGHT VICTORY IN DOMINANT FASHION AT NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY ON FRIDAY NIGHT
LEBANNON, Tenn. ( June 11, 2005) -- J.R. Norris is pretty much getting the knack about getting around the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway. On Friday night, Norris scored his second career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series victory after a dominating performance in the "Bob Harmon Memorial" Sunbelt Rentals 100 presented by Federated Auto Parts.
Norris took the victory by a 2.632-second margin of victory ahead of runner-up Erik Darnell, followed by the top-five of Dusty Williams, rookie Gary Helton and Southeast Series regular Allen Karnes. Norris won his first Southeast Series race last year at Nashville Superspeedway so he had no problem finding victory lane once again where he celebrated the end of a one-year losing skid after a great battle throughout the event between himself and Williams.
"This means a lot to not only me but also this whole team because we had a great car and it turned out to be a great points night for us," Norris said. "This makes me really believe we're back and can win this championship. That's the biggest thing because we're trying to race the big picture. To be able to come to a place like Nashville Superspeedway and win two in a row is just phenomonial. This was a tough field, I can tell you that for sure.
"Dusty Williams had a real good car and I don't know if I could have beaten him if he didn't have that tire rub. I hate it for him, but the same guy can't win all the races. That's what's so cool about this series. I know he's going to be tough to beat next weekend at Kentucky."
In fact, it the fourth different race winner in the first four races of the 2005 Southeast Series campaign.
Despite coming up just short of the win, Darnell was pleased with his efforts in his first Southeast Series race of the 2005 season.
"I was a little bit disappointed that qualifying got rained out because we had to start so far in the back of the field," Darnell said. "The car was just too loose for me the whole race. After our last pit stop when we made adjustments, the car was awesome and it just took off. I think I was as fast if not faster than J.R. was. By the time I got to second we were just too far behind him. We needed a yellow flag but we didn't get one so we'll take second and head to Kentucky next weekend."
Norris headed into the 2005 Southeast Series with high expectations that were quickly dimmed with less than stellar efforts in the first two events. Thanks to his victory, Norris moves into fifth in the standings by 103 markers behind Williams who now holds sole possession of the Southeast Series championship lead for the first time in his racing career.
"We worked really hard as a team over the winter even though the first two races of this season don't really reflect that," Norris said. "We're starting to get our act together. Hopefully at the end of the year we'll be able to go to the Southeast Series awards banquet as champions. This win is very big for this team."
The night of Williams got off to a wild start to put it mildly. After inclement weather caused the field to be set per the NASCAR rulebook, Williams took the green flag from the pole position with Jason Hogan on his outside. As the field raced off the second turn on the very first lap, Jeff Fultz and Williams made contact which sent Williams' No. 40 Pennzoil Chevrolet for a harmless solo spin.
Williams was able to continue and in the ensuing laps looked like a lawnmower as he was mowing through traffic. By Lap 31, Williams was back to second before he took the lead from Norris on Lap 43 thanks to a bold pass. Williams and Norris took turns with the lead until Williams had a tire rub and had to make an unscheduled pit stop. Much like he did at the start, Williams made a methodic move to end up third.
Williams was able to leave Nashville with a 45-point lead in the championship race over Fultz, the defending Southeast Series champion. Jason Hogan now stands third in the standings, followed by Justin Wakefield and Norris.
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 10 mins, 36 secs
Average Speed: 113.031 mph
Margin of Victory: 2.632 Seconds
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER: Gary Helton *, 86 Volunteer Performance Racing Engines Chevrolet
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE: Erik Darnell, 7 Simply Wow Chevrolet
LUNATI CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE: Richie Wauters, 5 Victor Ford Chevrolet
Caution Flags: Laps 2-3; 20-23; 71-74; 80-86. 4 for 17 laps.
Lap Leaders: Dusty Williams 0, Jason Hogan 1-9, J R Norris 10-42, Dusty Williams 43-47, J R Norris 48, Dusty Williams 49-54, J R Norris 55-100.
Total Laps Led: J R Norris 80, Dusty Williams 11, Jason Hogan 9.
6 changes involving 3 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points: Dusty Williams 660, Jeff Fultz 615, Jason Hogan 595, Justin Wakefield 566, J R Norris 557, Charlie Bradberry 546, Greg Pope 540, Robert Richardson, II 537, Gary Helton * 536, Allen Karnes 528
Next Race: Kentucky Speedway