* Sorenson's First Weekend Shuffle: This weekend will be the first of six events this season that Reed Sorenson will be splitting his time between two separate competition events in the same weekend, and most of the time those events will...
* Sorenson's First Weekend Shuffle: This weekend will be the first of six events this season that Reed Sorenson will be splitting his time between two separate competition events in the same weekend, and most of the time those events will be in two separate states. He will be doing this so he can compete in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series races. This weekend, he will start off in Pocono, Pa., practicing and qualifying the No. 41 Target Dodge at Pocono Raceway on Friday and Saturday. He will then hop on a plane Saturday afternoon, with fellow competitor Carl Edwards, and head to Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn. to qualify and race the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge that evening. After that, he will jump back on a plane to return to Pennsylvania to go race in Sunday's Pocono 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.
* Hamlin Lends a Hand: During Sorenson's temporary absence this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, Kevin Hamlin--a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) development driver--will help the No. 41 Discount Tire team by piloting the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge during both morning practice sessions at the Nashville track. Before coming on board at CGRFS, Hamlin--a Snohomish, Wash. native--grabbed consecutive championships in the NASCAR Northwest (NW) Series in 2001 and 2002. In 1999, at the young age of 19, he won his first NW race and became the youngest driver to win a NW race. He claimed the victory at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. Hamlin joined the CGRFS Development Driver program in 2005. His first NASCAR Busch Series start came at Pikes Peak in July of that same year. He finished 17th and went on to compete in 13 more Busch races that season, in addition to competing in one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Kansas Speedway. He started this 2006 season competing in the NCTS season-opener at Daytona International Speedway for Bobby Hamilton Racing and finished 11th. To learn more about Hamlin, go to www.kevinhamlin.com.
* Nashville Niche: If anyone likes running at Nashville Superspeedway, Sorenson does and his results prove just that. In his first official NASCAR Busch Series start at the Tennessee track in March 2005, the then-rookie driver scored his first career pole and win, leading a total of 197 laps en route to victory. He had more than a 14-second lead over the second-place finisher, Kenny Wallace. The win also made Sorenson the first driver to win from the pole position at Nashville. Later in the season he returned to the track in June to grab another top five, leading a total of 13 laps and finishing third (started sixth). His run in April of this year was just as impressive, as he finished both practice sessions at the top of the speed charts, qualified for the fourth-starting position and then went on to lead a total of 16 laps. He was on his way to a second-place finish when debris on the track punctured his tire and sent him slamming against the outside wall on lap 220 of the 225-lap race. The setback relegated him to a 19th-place finish.
* Where They Stand: Sorenson and the No. 41 Discount Tire team stand 12th in the driver points and 15th in owner points after they finished 10th at Dover International Speedway this past weekend. They are 16 points out of 10th in the driver rankings and 57 out of the top 10 in owner points. They are 263 out of fifth in both the driver and owner standings.
* CGRFS NEXTEL News & Updates: Sorenson and the Target team dropped one position, to 21st, in the overall NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship standings after their 19th-place finish at Dover this past weekend. The team is only nine points out of 20th and 128 out of 15th.
* Rookie Ranks: Sorenson's 19th-place finish at Dover did help him hold on to his third-place position in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. With 113 as hit total tally, he is only 30 points behind rookie leader Denny Hamlin.
* Chassis: This weekend, chassis #454 is returning to Nashville Superspeedway to run as the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge. It is the same chassis the No. 41 Busch team ran at the Tennessee track in April, when a late-race incident relegated the team's second-place run to a 19th-place finish (started fourth). The team soon discovered debris on the track had punctured the right-front tire and was the culprit behind the late-race mishap. The same chassis was also entered in both Nashville Busch Series races last year, and carried the team to the pole position and win in March. It was then returned to the speedway in June and helped grab a third-place finish, in addition to a six-place start. Altogether, the car scored one pole, one win, four top-five starts and three top-five finishes in 2005.
Q&A with Sorenson
Reed, you are preparing to do the first weekend shuffle on your NASCAR Busch/NEXTEL Cup competition schedule. How much work has gone in to this and what are you doing to prepare yourself from getting run down?
"This weekend is actually going to be a little easier than some of the dates down the road, but a lot of the planning has been handled through everyone back at the shop. I am just going to go where they tell me to and when they tell me to. I am sure a lot of work has gone into it, but I will let them handle all of that and it is nice I don't have to worry about it. I can just focus on driving the cars. I also know Kevin [Hamlin] will do a good job giving solid feedback to the Discount Tire crew so they can get the car race ready. There are a lot of good people putting a hand in this to help me run both series and I greatly appreciate all of their efforts and help. As far as health, I plan to do a lot of eating and sleeping in the air over the next few weeks."
After your last run at Nashville was such a heartbreaker in the closing laps, are you looking for a little bit of redemption this weekend?
"Our last run was a good one until about lap 220. I believe that is when we brushed the wall and it sent us sailing outside the top 10. We weren't on our way to winning the race, but we were definitely going to grab the second-best finish of the day. The guys found a puncture in the tire after that so we must've picked up debris on the track. That is definitely one of those situations you can't really control, but everything we did control went really well that weekend. We qualified well and competed really well, so we'll see if all of our hard work will finally pay off this weekend."
Q&A with K. Hamlin
How does it feel to know you are getting ready to get back in the car and what are your main goals going to be?
"I am real excited to be able to help the Discount Tire team out and Reed. They have a really good history at Nashville, so it is a great opportunity to get some seat time in a great car and with a great team. My goal is not to be at the top of the speed charts during practice, but just to get the car ready for Reed."