SORENSON DRIVES TO A THIRD-PLACE FINISH IN O'REILLY 300 ON DOUBLEHEADER RACE DAY FORT WORTH, Texas (April 20, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and crew chief, Trent Owens, knew they had a busy weekend as they traveled to Texas Motor Speedway to compete in...
SORENSON DRIVES TO A THIRD-PLACE FINISH IN O'REILLY 300 ON DOUBLEHEADER RACE DAY
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 20, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and crew chief, Trent Owens, knew they had a busy weekend as they traveled to Texas Motor Speedway to compete in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series events. Neither, however, anticipated that the weather would force the schedule into an 800-mile doubleheader at the Fort Worth-based track on Monday. Following a disappointing and early exit from the Samsung Mobile 500, Sorenson and the Dollar General team rallied back with a third-place finish in the O'Reilly 300, catapulting the team back to a fifth-place position in the Nationwide Series Owner's championship point standings.
During Friday's Nationwide Series qualifying, Sorenson turned in a 182.995 mph lap that secured the No. 32 team a 22nd-place start in Saturday's race. Sorenson and Owens were confident that they had a strong car set up for the race and turned their focus to the qualifying efforts of the Dollar General Cup car which was required to make the race based on speed. Ready for a full weekend of racing, Sorenson would have to wait two days to climb back into the car as inclement weather cancelled all track activity on Saturday and Sunday, setting up a Monday of back-to-back events.
Under cloudy skies that still appeared threatening, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams prepared for a Monday evening 200-lap race. As soon as the green flag fell, Sorenson immediately went to work, moving the No. 32 forward ten positions before NASCAR's scheduled competition caution slowed the field. Running in the 12th spot, Sorenson took the opportunity to report on the car's handling to Owens.
"The car feels pretty good," he said. "If we could turn just a little bit better on the long runs it would help."
Sorenson brought the No. 32 Toyota to pit road on lap 28 for service and adjustments. The Dollar General team changed four tires, putting on the one set of scuffs that remained from Friday's practice and made an air pressure adjustment. After seeing how the Cup car had reacted to additional tape on the front grill, Owens ordered the crew to place a strip on the upper left side of the Camry's screen. The No. 32 was in the ninth position when the race resumed on lap 32.
Sorenson drove the Dollar General Toyota forward, taking over the eighth spot on lap 34 and the seventh position only three laps later. Despite reporting that the car had developed a loose-handling condition, he held onto the seventh spot.
"Just keep the pressure on him," Owens told his driver as he continued to pressure the No. 88 for the next position. "He'll slip up here soon. You make up time on him when you keep your exits low."
Sorenson made the pass on the No. 88, taking over the sixth position just before the caution flag flew again on lap 67. He asked Owens if he could have some more front grip, but not to loosen the back of the car too much, as it was turning good. Owens called him to pit road on lap 68. The Dollar General crew quickly put on four sticker tires, packed the car with fuel and made air pressure and track bar adjustments. The No. 32 lined up in the seventh spot with Braun Racing teammate, David Reutimann, in the No. 10 Camry on the outside as racing resumed on lap 75.
Following the restart, the No. 21 snapped loose and made contact with the No. 33 not far in front of the Dollar General Toyota. As Sorenson moved his car past the ill-handling No. 21, spotter, Tony Hirschman gave his driver the heads up, "The No. 33 has some left rear damage, so be ready if he loses a tire."
The No. 33 fought to maintain the fifth spot, eventually giving it up to Sorenson on lap 77. When the yellow flag was brought out on lap 81 for an accident in turn four, Sorenson reported to the team that the last set of changes had helped with the front grip and the car felt good. Remaining on the track during the caution with the lead cars, Sorenson retained his fifth-placed position for the restart on lap 89.
Sorenson worked to hold onto his top-five position, but an impatient No. 27 car gave the Dollar General Toyota a little nudge before overtaking the fifth spot on lap 95. "The front of the car is ok, but we are rolling over on the right rear too much," he told Owens as he circled the track.
As the run progressed, he updated the team on the car's handling. "The car is still a little too loose at the start of a run. The longer the green, the better the car gets. I'm barely lifting now. A little more rear grip to start with would help us."
On lap 124, Owens instructed his crew on what adjustments to make as teams began to prepare for the first round of green-flag pit stops. "We're 10 away from pitting," he said. "Have him cross at 134 and bring him down pit road on lap 135, Tony."
The Dollar General crew stood poised on pit wall, ready to service the Camry when he came to pit road. On lap 135, Sorenson brought the car to the pit stall and the No. 32 team quickly changed four tires, added fuel, made air pressure and track bar adjustments and returned him to the track. As the field circled through the green-flag stops, the Dollar General Toyota returned to the fifth position on lap 147.
When the final yellow flag was brought out on lap 168 for an accident in turn two, Sorenson reported again on the car's handling. "We're really good on the long runs," he said. "We just need a little more rear grip. Otherwise this thing is great!"
Owens ordered a four-tire stop, with an air pressure adjustment and fuel. He instructed the gas man not to fill the fuel cell to capacity in order to keep the nose weight in the car. With 30 laps remaining, a full tank would not be needed. He called his driver to pit road on lap 169. The Dollar General crew quickly changed the tires and made the adjustments. The flawless stop by the team gained the No. 32 a position on pit road; however, they would still line up fourth because the No. 38 team had elected to take only two tires and would lead the field to the restart on lap 174.
The four sticker tires proved valuable as Sorenson followed the No. 18 and No. 20 cars to the front. He continued to chase the teammates in the closing laps, but was unable to catch them, bringing home a 3rd-place finish and concluding the extended weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
"We had a great Dollar General car here today," said Sorenson. "The pit stops were really good and we made the right adjustments each time. I can honestly say we had just about a perfect car here at the end. It was an exciting weekend and I just want to thank Dollar General again for being with us on both cars. This is going to be a great year and I can't wait to be back in the No. 32 in a couple of weeks at Richmond."
Brian Vickers returns to drive the Dollar General Camry in next weekend's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron's 312.
-source: braun racing