MISFORTUNE HITS THE DOLLAR GENERAL TEAM AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 5, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to Kansas City this weekend for the Kansas Lottery 300. Sorenson started the Kansas Lottery 300...
MISFORTUNE HITS THE DOLLAR GENERAL TEAM AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 5, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to Kansas City this weekend for the Kansas Lottery 300. Sorenson started the Kansas Lottery 300 in the 15th spot, quickly charging inside the top-10, where he remained until unexpectedly running out of fuel on lap 54, relegating the Dollar General team to a 36th-place finish.
Under partly cloudy skies and with chilly, fall-like temperatures, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams took the green flag at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Within three laps, Sorenson charged the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota inside the top-10. Throughout the long green-flag run, he reported that he was battling a loose-handling condition in the rear of the car.
By lap 30, the field was well stretched out around the 1.5-mile speedway. Sorenson and his spotter discussed where the Dollar General Camry appeared to be carrying the best speed.
"The bottom of one and two and the top of three and four are where you look the best," said spotter, Tony Hirschman.
"10-4," replied Sorenson. "I'll run that line these next few laps to see how it works."
Running in the ninth position on lap 49, Sorenson battled with Justin Allgaier in the No. 12 car for the eighth spot. As the Dollar General Toyota circled the track on the inside line, the car wiggled suddenly. Sorenson maintained control of the No. 32 and pulled back into position behind the No. 12.
As he drove down the backstretch on lap 54, Sorenson came on the radio and informed the team he was out of fuel. Still six laps from the calculated pit window, the news was a surprise to the team. The crew scrambled up onto pit wall. Sorenson coasted the No. 32 Camry into the pit stall and the Dollar General crew went to work changing four tires with air pressure adjustments and packing the car with fuel. The team pushed the car down pit road in an attempt to push-start it back to life. Unable to do so, the team pushed the car behind the wall to assess the situation. Fifteen laps later, the car fired up and was back on track and in the 37th position.
Knowing that the 15-lap deficit would be difficult to overcome, crew chief, Trent Owens, and Sorenson continued to work on adjusting the car's handling and utilizing the remaining laps to practice the Dollar General Toyota.
The caution flag was displayed on lap 77 for debris in turn four. Owens called for a four-tire change, air pressure adjustments and fuel when the No. 32 came to pit road on lap 79. The Dollar General crew executed a flawless stop and Sorenson restarted from the 37th position on lap 82.
When the No. 18 spun in turn four on lap 90, the field slowed again behind the pace car. Sorenson reported to his team on the car's handling.
"The car feels good, but can we free it up just a little?" Sorenson asked.
Owens instructed the Dollar General crew to add fuel and go two rounds up on the track bar. Sorenson drove the No. 32 to pit road on lap 92 for service and adjustments. The race returned to green-flag conditions on lap 95.
On lap 116, NASCAR officials reported that there was fluid on the race track and displayed the yellow flag again. Sorenson and Owens discussed how the previous track bar adjustment had affected the car's handling. Owens instructed the crew to reverse the track bar adjustment and apply air pressure changes instead. On lap 118, Sorenson brought the No. 32 Camry to pit road where the Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, went two rounds down on the track bar and packed the car with fuel. As he returned to the track for the lap 124 restart, he radioed in to Owens, "I still can't believe that happened. Where were we running before we ran out of gas?"
Owens replied, "That makes two of us. We were ninth at the time. Let's just learn as much as we can out here now and we'll put this behind us and head to California."
Another caution on lap 127 permitted Sorenson to bring the Dollar General Toyota down pit road again, this time for fuel and to remove a strip of tape from the front grill. As the field returned to green-flag racing on lap 131, the No. 32 was scored in the 36th position. The run was short lived when cars spun on the frontstretch, bringing out the yellow flag again on lap 133. The race restarted on lap 138 and remained under green-flag conditions.
As the long green-flag run ensued, Owens began to instruct his team on the adjustments he wanted made on the next pit stop while Sorenson continued to update him on the car's handling.
Running in the 36th position on lap 175, Sorenson reported on the handling conditions of his car. "We lose grip as we go. Let's tighten up the back just a little bit."
As the field began to make their next pit stops under green-flag conditions, Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 180 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. Shortly after returning to the track, Sorenson reported on the resulting balance.
"Not a good adjustment, Trent," he told his crew chief.
"10-4," replied Owens. "I wanted to see if the higher air pressures would pick you up some speed."
The No. 17 car spun on the backstretch on lap 189, bringing out the seventh yellow flag of the day and the opportunity for the Dollar General team to service the car one more time. Owens instructed his tire specialist to reverse the previous tire pressure adjustments and the crew to change four tires and not to add fuel. Sorenson brought the No. 32 Camry to pit road on lap 192 for service, returning to the race track for the lap 195 restart.
As the field returned to racing and soared through turn four, the No. 88 car spun and made contact with the outside wall. The caution flag flew one final time on lap 195, slowing the field once more. As he remained on track, Sorenson updated Owens on the adjustments from the lap 192 pit stop.
"It feels really good now," he said. "We've got a good balance and it feels fast."
"10-4," replied Owens. "You're running top-10 speeds. We have a solid car, just not the track position it deserves."
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 199 and Sorenson took the checkered flag two laps later in the 36th position. The finish marks only the fifth occurrence that the No. 32 Toyota has finished worse that 12th in 29 races this year. The Dollar General team remains in the sixth position in the Nationwide Series Owner's Championship point standings.
"We had a solid car all day, just unfortunately ran out of fuel before we expected," said Sorenson. "I'm not sure what happened but I'm sure that the guys will take the notes back to the shop and figure it all out. We were able to take the day and learn from it, making adjustments with each pit stop to see what will work best for future races. The Dollar General crew had a great day in the pits with really solid stops. By the end of the race, the car was handling great and we were fast. Had we not lost the laps behind the wall, I don't doubt we would have been up there in the top-10 or top-five. We'll just put this behind us now and head to California."
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series teams head out west to Auto Club Speedway next weekend.