SORENSON SURVIVES THE MONSTER MILE'S WRATH AND BRINGS HOME A FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT DOVER DOVER, Del. (May 17, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to the "Monster Mile" this weekend for the Heluva Good! 200. Driving a...
SORENSON SURVIVES THE MONSTER MILE'S WRATH AND BRINGS HOME A FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT DOVER
DOVER, Del. (May 17, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to the "Monster Mile" this weekend for the Heluva Good! 200. Driving a solid race while battling a persistent loose-handling condition, Sorenson never fell out of the top-10 once he established himself there early in the event. His perseverance throughout the 205-mile race and the hard work of the Dollar General team earned them a fourth-place finish at Dover International Speedway.
Sorenson battled a loose-handling car during the Saturday morning qualifying session, resulting in a 14th-place starting position. As he climbed into the No. 32 Toyota prior to the race, he was confident that the car would be strong under race conditions. As the green flag dropped to signal the start of the 200-lap race, Sorenson quickly went to work and was moving forward, despite reporting to crew chief, Trent Owens, that he was still experiencing a loose condition.
Driving in the 11th spot when the first caution flag of the afternoon slowed the field on lap 34, Sorenson took the opportunity to discuss the car's handling with Owens.
"The front feels ok, but it just feels like there's no grip in the rear" he said.
Owens called him to pit road on lap 35 for service and adjustments. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, made air pressure and track bar adjustments and packed the car with fuel. The fast stop gained him valuable track position; however, as Sorenson was driving down pit road to return to the race track, he had to take evasive action to avoid contact with the No. 12 car as it pulled out of its pit stall. This action slowed the car slightly, but he still gained a position on pit road. Sorenson lined up in the 10th spot for the restart on lap 38.
Only a few laps later, Sorenson reported that it felt like he had no grip with the right rear tire.
"I'm really struggling to pass with the right rear not able to stay on the track," he said. "I'm all over the place. It feels like a nine out of 10 loose."
"10-4," replied Owens. "We'll keep working on it. Just do your best to hold onto it for this run."
While battling the loose-handling condition, Sorenson continued to drive hard, making the pass for the ninth spot on lap 71. Owens readied his crew on the adjustments he wanted made to the Dollar General Toyota when they had the next chance to pit. That opportunity would come on lap 80 when NASCAR displayed the yellow flag for debris in turn one.
Sorenson brought the Camry to pit road on lap 82. The Dollar General crew changed four tires with air pressure adjustments, went two rounds down on the track bar, made a wedge adjustment and put a spring rubber into the right rear spring. Despite the myriad adjustments, the crew's quick service gained him another position as he drove off of pit road. With three teams also serving penalties for speeding on pit road, Sorenson lined up in the fifth spot for the restart on lap 86.
It was a battle for position between the Dollar General Toyota and the No. 21 as they traded the fourth and fifth spots. The No. 21 made the pass for fourth on lap 90 and Sorenson settled into the fifth position.
"Stay high, stay high, stay high," instructed spotter, Tony Hirschman as the No. 22 car spun ahead of Sorenson. "Yellow's out."
As he slowed the car, Sorenson reported on the car's handling following the flood of adjustments on the previous pit stop.
"That definitely helped the rear grip," he said. "We did hurt the front just a little. I think if we make small adjustments from here on, we'll be good."
"We tightened up both ends on that last stop," Owens replied. "We'll focus on the rear only this next time."
Owens told his driver that they would remain on the track. When green-flag racing resumed on lap 109, Sorenson was in the fourth position. He immediately jumped out to take the third spot and held strong to the position, until he relinquished it on lap 132.
Sorenson had settled into the fourth spot until a stopped car on the race track brought out the yellow flag once again on lap 152.
"The balance of the car is ok," he told Owens. "It's strange because it is not like the balance is loose, we are just lacking grip with the right rear tire. During that last run the grip was a little better, but every other corner it still felt like it wanted to snap out on me."
Owens instructed the Dollar General crew to change four tires with air pressure adjustments and to make another wedge adjustment in the left rear. Sorenson brought the No. 32 car to pit road for service on lap 153. With one car making a two-tire stop, he lined up for the lap 156 restart in the fifth position.
Sorenson worked to gain ground but the persistent lack of grip causing the loose-sensation continued to hinder his progress. A single-car accident in turn two brought out the fifth caution of the afternoon on lap 193.
"Be ready for two tires if the leaders come to pit road," Owens told both his driver and the team. As the No. 20 and No. 21 cars started to come to pit road but changed direction at the last minute, Owens called out, "Stay out! Stay out!"
As he circled the track, Sorenson reported that it felt like his two rear tires were flat. Hirschman replied "They look good. Just scuff them good and get that rubber off before we go green again."
As the field charged to the restart in on lap 198, chaos broke out and a multi-car accident would force NASCAR to display the red flag and halt the field in order to clean up the large amount of debris that littered the race track. After 11 minutes, the red flag was lifted and replaced by the yellow flag. As Sorenson circled the track in the fourth position, the field prepared for the green-white-checkered finish.
Suddenly Hirschman came on the radio and said, "Watch out! The No. 21 is coming fast on your inside."
The No. 21 charged past the Dollar General Toyota and then shot up the track, making hard contact with the No. 20 car. NASCAR ordered the No. 21 car to return to the garage for the remainder of the race and placed the No. 20 at the back of the field for the restart.
Sorenson lined up on the inside of the leader, in the second position for the restart on lap 201. In the final dash to the checkered flag, Sorenson slipped to the fourth position, collecting his third top-five and fifth top-10 finish in six starts behind the wheel of the Dollar General Toyota this season. The Dollar General team remains in the fifth position in the Nationwide Series Owner's Championship point standings.
"We worked to find rear grip all day," said Sorenson. "The outside line would have helped in that last restart, but Kyle was smart and took it for himself. The Dollar General guys worked hard making adjustments and had some great pit stops today! I think we learned a lot and we'll definitely be better when we come back here in the fall."
Next Stop: NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will enjoy a weekend off before making the short trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway in two weeks.
-source: braun racing