JR NORRIS WINS BATTLE OF NEW ALABAMA GANG by Bob Dillner
Wild Race & Accusations of Tire Soaking Energize Big Montgomery Super Late Model Race
Stories from the Alabama Gang are legendary. Farmer, the Allisons and Bonnett are some of the forefathers of our spot, but as we told you recently here on Speed51.com, the news is already spreading about the new Alabama Gang (click here for the story). And on Saturday night at the all-new Montgomery Motor Speedway, two of the members defended their turf and duked it out with each other in a $5k to win 125-lap independent Super Late Model race.
the race, regained the lead after a pitstop and then lost the lead when Charlie Bradberry pulled a move for the ages late in the race.
“It scared me because I didn’t know what happened,” JR would say later.
Norris ran up on Johnny Brazier who was fighting to stay on the lead lap and those two got tangled up for a brief second. And in a blink of an eye, Bradberry put it to the outside, went three abreast into turn-three and passed both of them to move into the lead.
Norris throws his hands up in the air after driving into victory lane at Montgomery. (51 Photos)
“There was nothing else I could do,” admitted Bradberry. “JR and Brazier turned sideways in front of me, so it was either hit them or turn right so I went on the outside of them and it was too late to back out so I went for it. I didn’t know if it was going to work out but I’m glad it did.”
“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,” continued Norris.
And then the battle was on. Norris, with the more dominant car, tried to get under the #78 repeatedly, but Bradberry was using his head and protecting the low groove.
Bradberry gave it all he could at Montgomery.
“I was holding the bottom the best that I could,” explained Bradberry, who still lives in Alabama. “He got into me a couple times but I would have done the same thing to him. It was just one of those racing deals. I had to protect the bottom and force him to the outside.”
And that’s eventually what Norris did. He made the move stick with just a handful of laps to go and then fought off Bradberry during a caution that set up a 3-2-1 finish.
“Charlie ended up finishing second and he knows I didn’t do it on purpose. I just wanted to win. He and I are real good buddies. His time will come again soon,” said Norris.
“We had a good car tonight, just couldn’t catch the 5-car,” Bradberry said.
The Richie Wauters/J.R. Norris combination is tough to beat, especially in the equipment Wauters provides.
“Yeah, but they can be beat, I guarantee you that,” stated Bradberry.
“We brought the tires over the wall so they think we changed them,” said Wauters. “All we did was measure them and brought them back; nobody said you couldn’t do that. They checked them; they were fine, but everybody was still bitchin’ so we put four more sticker tires on the car. We were just f—king with them.”
“We had a complaint from a competitor that we had a tire situation there so we inspected them and didn’t find anything,” said Montgomery Motor Speedway Co-Chief Tech Official Glenn Fraser. “To appease the competitors we opted to put another set of tires on the 5-car and clear the issue up and be done with it.”
Richie Wauters and official Glenn Fraser look at the 5-team's tires. (51 Photos)
Norris was just glad to be done with the race, which was his first since the Snowball Derby (at Five Flags Speedway) in early December, and finish it in victory lane.
“I got the rust off tonight. I was kinda worried; I was hoping I wouldn’t make any mistakes and expect for a few minor mistakes, I didn’t do all that bad.”
In his so-called downtime, Norris has been working with the #15 Craftsman Truck Series team in which Wauters is crew chief for. Both were at the Atlanta Motor Speedway the night before the Montgomery race.
“I just love this for Richie because I was able to give him his first win this year. 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.”
Norris also drives for Wauters in NASCAR’s Southeast Series, which opens April 30th at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.
“There’s no better way to start the season,” concluded Norris. “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.”
The Track Is Back 125
1) J.R. Norris
2) Charlie Bradberry
3) John Bolen
4) Ken McFarland
5) Jason Hogan
6) Ted Musgrave Jr.
7) Justin South
8) Gran Enfinger
9) Chris Whorton
10) Johnny Brazier
11) Eddie Mercer
12) Tal Etheredge
13) Adam Reed
14) Greg Tallent
15) Josh Hamner
16) Bubba Pollard
17) Ronnie Sanders
18) Frank King
19) Dennis Reno
20) Matt Hawkins
21) Chris Hornsby
22) Pat Cruise
23) Stephen Mitchell
25-year-old JR Norris and 22-year-old Charlie Bradberry might be buddies off the track, but it didn’t show at the half-mile Alabama speedplant. The two traded paint, pulled off amazing moves, and blew away the 23-car field to take the top two spots as the Super Late Models returned to the Montgomery track. In the end, it was J.R. Norris, in the potent Richie Wauters #5 machine, which took home the hefty cash prize.
“There was good hard-racing the entire race,” said JR Norris, who recently relocated to the Charlotte-area of North Carolina. “You’re going to have rubbin’ on a short track, especially on a tight track like this. Everybody was hogging position and you gotta do what you gotta do and I wanted to win really badly.”
What Norris did was move up from his seventh starting position and into the lead (past Eddie Mercer) by midway in
The win for Norris didn’t come without a little controversy for the Wauters team. After qualifying the team had to fight off accusations of tire-soaking, despite the fact that they did not even win the pole (Jason Hogan did).
“We knew they were going to change tires because of the way they were acting,” Super Late Model competitor Dennis Reno said of the 5-team. “They had the car cover draped over the car and they had some new tires stacked up over there. Then they waited until we started qualifying and everybody got busy and they took two tires off and handed them over the wall and then their crew put two new tires on the car. How stupid do you think we are? You can’t come down here and run against soaked tires. We notified the officials about it because they shouldn’t be allowed to race.”