J.R. Norris Returns Home to Victory Lane at Montgomery Gets to Spend Saturday Night in Two Familiar Places -- Victory Lane and Alabama HUEYTOWN, AL (March 21, 2005) -- It turns out that you can go home again; just ask J.R. Norris. Norris...
J.R. Norris Returns Home to Victory Lane at Montgomery
Gets to Spend Saturday Night in Two Familiar Places -- Victory Lane and Alabama
HUEYTOWN, AL (March 21, 2005) -- It turns out that you can go home again; just ask J.R. Norris.
Norris recently left his native state of Alabama and made the move to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area to concentrate on his racing career. He'll run for the championship this year in the NASCAR Southeast Series, but until that series starts its year on May 15th at Greenville-Pickens Raceway (SC), he did not have any races to run. Instead, he has been helping out the #15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team for which his car owner, Richie Wauters, is the crew chief of.
So that set up a perfect plan for one particular weekend. The Truck Series was racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past Friday night and just a few hours down the road on Saturday, the all-new Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) opened their doors Saturday with a 125-lap Super Late Model show.
It just so happened that Wauters happened to have a very fast Super Late Model sitting in his shop.
So Norris ended up making a return to his home state for one race and true to storybook form, he ended up winning the race. That made up for the fact that the #15 truck was extremely fast at Atlanta, but had tire problems that dropped it far back in the running order.
"I just love this for Richie (Wauters) because I was able to give him his first win this year," said Norris. "We had a tough night last night (at the Atlanta Motor Speedway). Shane (Hmiel) had a really great truck and we just had some bad luck. We drove all night to get here from there and all these guys are just as tired as I am. But I want to thank all of them because they work harder than I do and they had a great pitstop."
It wasn't an easy victory by any means. Norris had to work for it Saturday night. He had a spirited battle right to the end with fellow Alabama young hotshoe Charlie Bradberry. The two sliced and diced through traffic, ran side by side and nose to tail and even bounced off one another a few times.
"There was good, hard racing the entire race," said Norris. "You're going to have rubbing on a short track especially on a tight track like this. Everybody was hogging position and you've got to do what you've got to do. I wanted to win really badly. Charlie ended up finishing second. He and I are real good buddies. His time will come again soon."
Towards the end of the race, it came dangerously close to neither driver winning, though. Norris and Bradberry were running first and second when they came upon the lapped car of Johnny Brazier. Norris made contact with Brazier in the preferred groove, while Bradberry was alert and shot by into the lead on the outside.
"I was under him (Brazier) and it looked like he broke loose," said Norris. "And then we just got together. It scared me because I didn't know what happened. And I'm glad Charlie was on his toes like he was because it could have been a really bad mess. Charlie did a real good job of missing that."
Fortunately, both leaders got through that mess and traded their own paint late in the race. When all was said and done, it was Norris that got to enjoy his homecoming the most by being out front at the finish. Although at the same time, the victory also made Norris reflect upon the earlier days of his career and feel slightly bittersweet for the progress that he has made.
"I owe this to my dad too," Norris said. "He has helped me so much in my career. We are no longer running our family number-1 car this year and that's sad in a way because that's how my dad and I started racing, but he is still a big supporter of my racing career and I really appreciate everything he has done for me."
Norris' main focus this season will be in Southeast Series competition and this victory gives him a nice head start for a good season there.
"I got the rust off tonight," said Norris. "There's no better way to start the season. Everyone wants to start off with a win and we did it. It's the best thing for this team. And I hope this is a portrayal of what my team is going to be this year. I look forward to running the Southeast Series."
Norris will return to the NASCAR Southeast Series in 2005 to run for the championship with car owner Richie Wauters.