SORENSON FINISHES 12TH UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OF PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team headed to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend with high hopes and ...
SORENSON FINISHES 12TH UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OF PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team headed to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend with high hopes and expectations following their runner-up finish at Nashville Superspeedway. Battling with tight-handling conditions on exit for the majority of the night, the team made adjustments and used their last set of sticker tires with 60 laps remaining in the race. Luck was not on the No. 32 team's side when a late-race caution forced them to pit one final time. Without new tires, Sorenson fought to maintain his top-10 position, but was relegated to a 12th-place finish in Friday night's Bashas' Supermarkets 200.
As the sun began to dip in the Arizona sky, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams prepared for the 200-lap race under the lights of PIR. Sorenson climbed into his Dollar General Toyota and lined up in the 13th position. As soon as the green flag dropped, he immediately went to work, advancing the No. 32 inside the top-10 by lap six. On lap 16, the first caution of the evening occurred. Running in the ninth spot, Sorenson took the pause in green-flag racing to report on the car's handling to his crew chief, Trent Owens.
"The car is free going into turn one and tight on exit in both ends," he said. "We just need to get it to turn better."
Owens replied that they would make adjustments to the handling on the first pit stop, but instructed his driver to remain on the track unless the majority of the leaders came to pit road. When only two cars came to the pits for service, Sorenson remained on the track. When the race resumed on lap 21, he was in the seventh position.
"We are just not turning good enough," Sorenson told Owens. "It feels like it rolls over on the right side. We're still really tight on the exits."
"10-4," replied Owens. "We'll get you a spring rubber in the right rear to take care of that."
As Sorenson continued to battle the tight-handling car, he relinquished a position and was running eighth when the caution flag flew again on lap 31. He brought the No. 32 Toyota to pit road on lap 33 for service. The Dollar General team changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment and put a spring rubber in the car's right rear spring. The No. 32 was in the 20th position when the race resumed on lap 36.
With his four fresh tires, Sorenson worked to move the Dollar General Toyota forward through the traffic. By lap 43 he had advanced back inside the top-15. On lap 49, he informed Owens that the car felt like it was hopping on the left front going into turn one. Despite the bouncing, he moved the car into the ninth spot on lap 62.
When the caution flag flew on lap 73, Sorenson was running eighth. He reported to Owens that the car was still a little tight on the exit of the corners, but that the previous adjustments had helped some. Owens called him to pit road for adjustments on lap 74. The crew quickly changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment in the right rear tire and packed the car full of fuel. The No. 32 was in the ninth position when the race resumed on lap 78.
Sorenson moved the Dollar General car through the field and up to the seventh position on lap 85. "The front of the car is ok, but the back end is still out of the track," he told Owens as he circled the one-mile track.
Owens instructed his crew to reverse the previous air pressure adjustment and to pack the right rear with spring rubbers during the next pit stop. On lap 111, an accident in turn four brought out the evening's fourth caution. The Dollar General crew stood poised on pit wall, ready to service the Camry when he came to pit road. On lap 113, Sorenson brought the car to the pit stall and the No. 32 team quickly made the changes that Owens had ordered. Because of the crew's fast stop, the No. 32 was in the eighth position when the race restarted on lap 119.
Leaping into the seventh spot on the restart, Sorenson fought hard to maintain the position in an intense side-by-side battle with the No. 12 car. After relinquishing the spot, he reported on the car's handling.
Sorenson exclaimed, "Wrecking loose!"
Spotter Tony Hirschman worked to encourage his driver, "Stay with it and wait for the pressure to build up."
When the yellow flag was brought out on lap 128 for an accident on the frontstretch, Sorenson and Owens took the opportunity to discuss the car's handling. "I just don't have any forward bite right now," said the driver.
Owens reassured him that they would fix the handling on the next pit stop. "Let's stay out here and see what it does."
Following the lap 137 restart, pandemonium broke on the frontstretch. The multi-car accident brought out the red flag as NASCAR safety crews worked to remove the debris from the race track. During the break, Sorenson and Owens weighed their options and discussed whether or not to come to pit road for the last set of sticker tires and adjust on the loose-handling car. Knowing the gamble would pay off if the race remained under green-flag conditions, Sorenson agreed with Owens that an improvement in handling would give them the opportunity to contend with the leaders in the closing laps.
When the red flag was lifted, Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 140. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment and topped the car off with fuel. Because the pit stop was off sequence from some of the teams, it put the No. 32 in the 15th spot for the restart on lap 145.
The fresh tires proved valuable as Sorenson picked off positions one-by-one, moving inside of the top-10 in 15 laps. By lap 168 he advanced to the seventh spot and the proceeded to overtake the next position only five laps later. While in the process of running down the fifth-place car, it appeared that the gamble to pit had indeed paid off. However, Owens instructed his team to be prepared for one final stop in case the caution flag did fly.
"The last set of tires have only 10 laps on them," he said. "Get them cleaned off good and glue another set of lug nuts on. We'll use those if we have to pit one more time."
On lap 188, the Dollar General team was faced to execute their back-up plan when the caution flag was displayed for debris in turn one. On lap 190, Owens instructed Sorenson to come to pit road for service and told the No. 32 team to change the tires but not to add fuel.
When the race resumed on lap 193, the Dollar General Toyota was in the sixth position. Sorenson fought to remain in the top-10, but slipped backwards in the closing laps, bringing home a 12th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
"The Dollar General team did a great job today," said Sorenson. "They worked hard to adjust the car's handling with each pit stop. I think everyone is disappointed with the finish because we were so much better than a 12th-place car. We'll go back with the notes from tonight's race and work on some changes for when we come back here in the fall. I like this track a lot and I know we can come back here and contend for the win."
Next Stop: Next weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly 300.
-source: braun racing