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2-Time Lernerville Champ Michael Norris Living The Dream Driving For Clint Bowyer

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Two-time Lernerville Speedway track Champion Michael Norris is cherishing the opportunity to run for NASCAR star Clint Bowyer’s Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series team.

Norris started the 2019 season running his family owned Dirt Late Model and was off to a pretty good start.

“We had more races on our schedule than we’ve ever had, and we were having a lot of decent runs,” Norris told Pittsburgh Racing Now in a recent phone interview.  “We got a couple of wins early.”

The early season success prompted Norris and his team to travel to Ohio for one of the biggest Dirt Late Model races in the Country.  That’s when Norris’ season took a turn for the worst.

“We went to ‘The Dream’ out at Eldora and ended up hurting the motor there, so we hurried back and figured we would go to Lernerville if there was still enough time,” said Norris. “We went there and tore our other car up.”

Norris’ outlook for the season changed that weekend and it looked pretty bleak because of the expense associated with getting the cars back on the track.

“A lot of our funding for our race team comes from our family owned business,” said Norris.  “The scrap market went down low and everything’s been kind of slow at our business so we kind of had to pull the reigns back a little bit.”

Norris pulled out his phone and sent out a text message and put in motion a series of events that began to brighten his outlook.

“I actually texted Brian Daugherty of Integra Racing Shocks after Eldora, after I hurt the motor, ‘you know anybody looking for a driver because we’re done’,” explained Norris. “Totally just an off-the-wall text, and he was like ‘you can drive Todd’s car at the Firecracker’.”

Daugherty was referring to car owner Todd Cerenzia of Canonsburg.  Norris jumped in his car and started delivering immediate results.

“I actually used to race against that car at Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, when we started racing,” said Norris.  “We took it out the weekend before the Firecracker to shake it down because the car hasn’t been ran (in an event), I think it was 2-years, and we won that night and the car was really, really good.  It’s really good equipment.”

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A week later Norris parked Cerenzia’s car in Victory Lane at Lernerville again, this time in the preliminary to the Firecracker 100.

The victory caught the attention of Bowyer and his Dirt Late Model Team. Bowyer’s driver Josh Richards was in the event.

“Mark and Josh Richards put in a good word for me, they’ve always been great to me and Brian Daugherty from Integra Shocks, but I think the Firecracker 100 helped, we ran really well.  We won the preliminary night and I know Josh was racing that night, so I know the Bowyer’s were watching and I think that definitely helped me.”

Norris’ season took another turn shortly thereafter.

“The Bowyer’s called me and asked if I could fill-in for the injured Don O’Neal,” said Norris.  “My dad, my wife and everybody, I talked to all of them about it, and even if it was just for that first weekend it was such a cool experience and really a dream come true.  As long as it lasts it’s alright in my book.”

It looks like the opportunity could last into September.

“It all depends on how he (O’Neal) is making out recovery-wise on his knee,” said Norris.  “I think right at the beginning of September is when he’s planning on coming back but it all depends.  I’m just going to ride the roller coaster as long as I can.”

The Lucas Oil Late Models race Thursday and Friday nights at Florence Speedway in Kentucky for the 37th Annual Sunoco North/South Shootout and North/South 100.

“If I never do it again one of my lifelong goals was to be able to travel with this guys, at least do it once, so however long it lasts I’m cool with it and grateful for the opportunity,” said Norris.

Western Pennsylvania race fans can check out Norris, Richards and the Bowyer team later this month when the series travels to Mansfield Motor Speedway in Ohio for the Dirt Million.

“I’m kind of hoping maybe this will open doors,” said Norris.  “I love this, this has always been a dream of mine.”

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The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 007

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – This week on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast, we talk with W Series and Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires driver Sabré Cook, who is also an engineer.  We also talk with 3-time Lernerville 410-Sprint Car division Champion A.J. Flick.  Sit back, relax and enjoy!

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Racing Notebook – Thursday, March 19: F1 Postpones Monaco; WoO Postpones Races and more

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Formula 1

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Formula One and the World of Outlaws are the latest sanctioning bodies to postpone races because of the coronavirus outbreak.  The RUSH Sprint Car Series gets a new points fund sponsor and “Super Tex” taking care of his employees during a difficult time.

Formula One Postpones Monaco Grand Prix:

  • Formula One has postponed three additional races because of the coronavirus pandemic including the Monaco Grand Prix.  Also postponed were the Dutch and Spanish GP’s.  The first seven races of the F1 season have now been postponed. The next race on the calendar is in Azerbaijan on June 7.  F1 has moved the mid-season break from August to March and April and has extended the break from 14 to 21 consecutive days. The F1 season is scheduled to end with the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29, but could be extended to fit in some of the postponed races.
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World of Outlaws Postpones Races:

  • The World of Outlaws has postponed all NOS Energy Sprint Car and Morton Building Late Model races through March. The sanctioning body hopes to reschedule the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series races originally planned for Friday, March 27th at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN and Saturday, March 28th at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC. The World of Outlaws will continue to monitor developments across our nation and make decisions on future events when appropriate.

A.J. Foyt Racing To Pay Employees During COVID-19 Shutdown:

  • A.J. Foyt Racing is continuing to pay their employees despite temporarily shutting down their race shops in Texas and Indianapolis due to the coronavirus outbreak. “Our biggest concern is for the health of our communities and our employees, so we are closing the race shops for the time being,” said Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Inc. “I want to thank our partners and sponsors for their support and understanding during these extraordinary times. Many people will face some difficult challenges in the coming days. A.J. and I wish everyone the best, and we look forward to going racing again when the time is right.”

The RUSH Sprint Car Series Gets A New Points Fund Sponsor:

  • The RUSH Racing Series announced that Equipment Rental Options are stepping up to be the sponsor of the RUSH Sprint Car Series weekly championship points fund, replacing original points fund sponsor Bonnell’s Rod Shop.  The RUSH Sprint Car Series opens their 2020 season May 2 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.  Read our complete story here.
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Equipment Rental Options To Sponsor RUSH Sprint Car Weekly Championship Point Fund

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PULASKI, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The RUSH Racing Series has announced the Equipment Rental Options has signed on to be the presenting sponsor of the Weekly Championship Points Fund for the RUSH Sprint Car Series.

The 2020 Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Championship will feature 30 RUSH Sprint Car events concluding with the “Steel City Stampede” at Lernerville Speedway on October 17.

Equipment Rental Options is co-owned by current RUSH Sprint Car racer, Arnie Kent.  Kent, who got his start in Micro Sprints before moving up the Sprint Car ladder, won the division’s first ever race in 2018 at Lernerville.

“We’re very thankful Arnie has stepped up with his Equipment Rental Options so we can maintain the lucrative point fund,” said Vicki Emig, RUSH Racing Series Director.  “Arnie has been a longtime friend of both Mike (Leone, RUSH Director) and myself as well as many of our racers, and we’re really looking forward to being able to promote his growing business!”

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Equipment Rental Options currently has two locations in western Pennsylvania; one in Hermitage and another in New Castle; Equipment Rental Options will be moving into a larger facility at 3587 Clover Lane just off Wilmington Road (Route 18) in New Castle this summer.

Bonnell’s Rod Shop had been the presenting sponsor of the Weekly Series Championship during the first two years of the division’s inception. In fact, their sponsorship allowed the point fund to grow to more than $20,000 after the program was originally announced back in 2017.

“We have to thank Scott Bonnell for his unwavering support of the RUSH Sprint Cars,” said Emig. “Scott was behind the concept from day one, had a car in the Series, and offered financial support to grow the point fund without us even approaching him. We know he will remain a strong proponent of the Series.”

The RUSH Sprint Car Series Season Opener is scheduled for May 2 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.

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