REDEMPTION IS MUSIC TO NORRIS’ EARS IN NASHVILLE  by Jeremy Troiano
SES Title Chase Comes Down To Greenville This Weekend
With 25 laps to go, JR Norris found himself leading at Nashville’s Music City Motorplex on Wednesday night in the 100-lap Southeast Series / Midwest Series combined event.  There is nothing new with that picture.  Norris has always been fast at the historic Fairgrounds track.
scoreboard (which sits just outside turn three, easily in view of the drivers as they drive down the backstretch) until about 25 to go.  Then, I started looking at it every lap and every lap.  I couldn’t’ help it either.  Every time I’d come off of two, that is the first thing I saw and looked at.  This time though, she stayed with me and got me to the finish.”

Norris is known for finding ways to lose races at Nashville.  It started when he was dominating the North vs. South “Patriot 200” at the track several years ago and broke.  He’s won several poles at the track in his Southeast Series car, but every time, something has happened to keep him from winning, be it an accident with a lapped car or a flat tire under green.  One year, he even lost a race with less than 10 laps to go, getting passed by another driver with fresher tires.

It has happened so many times, JR was expecting it to happen Wednesday night.

“I was scared to death when they had that wreck on the front straight late in the race,” Norris said of a lap 74 accident involving several lapped cars.  “I knew I was going to get a flat tire.  I knew I was.  That is just my luck.
JR Norris (center) celebrates with Jeff Victor (left), Richie Wauters and Billy Balew (right).  (51 Photos)
“But I didn’t.  I guess everything was in line tonight.”

The long-needed win also let JR look back on why it was finally able to happen.

“(Car owner) Richie (Wauters) works so hard on this car himself to make it the very best for me week in and week out.  I wouldn’t be able to win races if it wasn’t for him doing that.  This whole thing is a good feeling.  It’s sad that we’re not going to come back here any more.  As hard as I’ve tired to win races here over the last five years, it is sad that I finally win it and that I’m not going
Norris' #5 was as fast as a 'drag car' on Wednesday.
However, with 20 laps to go, he was still leading.  With 15 to go, then 10 to go and five to go, he was still out front and still pulling away.  Then, as his #5 Richie Wauters-owned Chevrolet took the white flag, Norris was doing one thing… talking to his car. 

It must have been some sweet talk, because Norris finally captured the victory he’s been looking forward to for years… a win at Music City Motorplex and the guitar that goes a long with it.

“I was talking to the car, it just wasn’t talking back,” said Norris.  “I kept telling the car to make it 25 more laps, then 20 more laps.  I was counting down every lap with about 25 to go.  I did the best I could not to look at the
to get to come back here anymore.  I love this track.  It is my favorite track.  It is a place that you love to hate because anything can happen.”

Norris’ win was only part of the story from Wednesday night.  The other underlining theme was that of the Southeast Series Championship race.  Norris came into the event tied for the points lead with Jason Hogan.  Each driver has won one race and finished second in the other coming into the night.
Now, with Norris’ win, he has a little bit of breathing room heading into the season and series finale at Greenville (SC) on Saturday.  (Norris leads Hogan by 15 points)

“Jason has been trying to win this championship for a long time,” added Norris.  “I know he is hungry for it.  To be honest, to say one of us is more hungry than the other is irrelevant, because both of us will do whatever it takes to win a championship.”

And even if Norris doesn’t win the title, he and Hogan both agree they’d like to see each other win.

“The respect between Jason and myself is ungodly.  I’m the same way.  If I can’t win it, I want to see him win it.  Anything can happen when we go to Greenville.  He ran real good there last time and I ran real good there last time.  Anything could happen.  Now I can relax and go concentrate on Greenville though.”

Hogan finished third, losing a little ground.  However, his attitude it still looking towards wins and a possible championship.
“You don’t have a lot of time here in a 100 lap race,” said Hogan.  “Around lap 75, had it been a 150 lap race, I would have made some adjustments.  But at that point, you just have to take what you can get and hold on.  Luckily we got a third-place out of it.  The car is in one piece and we’ve got an excellent car for Greenville.  We are ready to go up there and do what we have to do.  We’re focused on winning races and that is what we need to do at Greenville.”

Losing a few points doesn’t matter to the 23-year-old.

“It doesn’t really change my mindset at all.  Now, he comes in (to the finale) with a target on his back instead of me.  They have to have everything on their car perfect.  I know Richie is good enough to do it.  But everyone has bad races every now and then.  That is part of it.  
The Music City 100  Results
Music City Motorplex
  1.  (4) J.R. Norris, Huntersville N.C., Ford, 100, 77.236 mph, $3,223
  2.  (2) Gary Helton, Sevierville Tenn., Chevrolet, 100, $2,223
  3.  (3) Jason Hogan, Cleveland Ga., Chevrolet, 100, $2,422
  4.  (5) Ryan Lawler, Colleyville Tex., Ford, 100, $2,350
  5.  (6) Dusty Williams, Savannah Ga., Chevrolet, 100, $1,622
  6. (17) Dan Fredrickson, Elko Minn., Chevrolet, 100, $2,150
  7.  (9) Tim Schendel, Sparta Wis., Chevrolet, 100, $1,200
  8.  (1) Josh Hamner, Harpersville Ala., Chevrolet, 99, $1,122
  9.  (8) Dexter Bean, Westby Wis., Chevrolet, 99, $1,075
10. (10) Mark Kraus, Stratford Wis., Chevrolet, 99, $1,050
11. (19) Eddie Stivers, Columbia S.C., Chevrolet, 99, $1,022
12. (13) Bruce Yackey, Greely Col., Chevrolet, 98, $900
13. (14) Michael Gallegos, Wheat Ridge Col., Chevrolet, 98, $650
14. (12) Ronald Hawley, Winona Minn., Chevrolet, 97, $800
15. (25) Scotty Backman, Parker Col., Chevrolet, 97, $550
16. (16) Ted Mickelson, Greer S.C., Chevrolet, 96, $450
17. (23) Walter Sutcliffe, East Haven Conn., Chevrolet, 96, $647
18. (26) Danny Darnell, Beach Park Ill., Chevrolet, 95, $400
19. (24) Darren Bucklen, Greely Col., Chevrolet, 86, Suspension, $400
20. (22) Michael Britt, Cummings Ga., Chevrolet, 86, Ignition, $622
21. (21) David Finney, Sycamore Ill., Chevrolet, 76, Suspension, $600
22. (20) Greg Fowler, Erie Col., Chevrolet, 71, Accident, $600
23. (27) Jim Sikes, Fountain Col., Chevrolet, 71, Accident, $400
24. (15) Chip Brindel, Chatsworth Ga., Chevrolet, 67, Suspension, $400
25. (18) Brent Kirchner, La Crosse Wis., Chevrolet, 57, Suspension, $600
26. (11) Russ Blakely, Whitewater Wis., Chevrolet, 46, Oil Line, $600
27.  (7) Steve Carlson, West Salem Mi., Chevrolet, 27, Engine, $800
28. (28) Joe Mattress, Zebulon N.C., Chevrolet, 20, Handling, $400
29. (29) Michael Foy, Grayson Ga., Chevrolet, 10, Engine, $622




Norris
“Hopefully, we’ll go there and win this time by.  If we can’t pick up the win and also the championship, then there is no one else I’d rather see win this than one of my best friends.”

Even though Norris and Hogan were the headlines to the story, the race for the Midwest Championship was just as important.   Three drivers (Steve Carlson, Dan Fredrickson and Tim Schendel) came into the event tired in points. 

And even though none of the Midwest drivers threatened for a top-five in the overall standings, Fredrickson’s sixth-
Hogan's #92
place was good enough to count as a Midwest series victory and gave him the overall championship lead.

Speed51.com will have more on the Midwest Series chase in leftovers next week, following the Greenvile combined show on Saturday.