RSR TeamMuscles To Fourth Place In Season Opener Lakeland, FLA. (March 29, 2004) -- 18-year-old Reed Sorenson picked up where he left off in 2003 after claiming the American Speed Association's Rookie of The Year honor. In the ...
RSR TeamMuscles To Fourth Place In Season Opener
Lakeland, FLA. (March 29, 2004) -- 18-year-old Reed Sorenson picked up where he left off in 2003 after claiming the American Speed Association's Rookie of The Year honor. In the series' season-opener on Saturday at the USA International Speedway, Sorenson hit a small bump before qualifying but after taking the green flag, got to work and charged to the front for an impressive fourth place finish in the SK Hand Tool 200.
In what marked Sorenson's first race with new crew chief Gene Roberts, things started off pretty smoothly. After the second practice session the team found themselves sitting atop the speed chart. The luck continued to the next practice session but Saturday's run was a different story when Sorenson's #29 Dodge suffered a problem with the fuel pressure. The team pulled out their backup Dodge for qualifying, a car that had yet to make a single lap on the .75-mile oval, and ended up in the 21st position.
Prior to the drop of the green the Sorenson/Roberts duo opted to make some changes on their machine, swapping out the shocks, springs and making a few gear changes. At the start of the race, Sorenson was forced to the rear of the field per ASA rules since the team made changes to the car after qualifying.
"It was a tough day for everybody. We had to switch everything over. We had a good attitude and we knew we could do well. Gene was tired at race time but he kept me pumped up," Sorenson said of the team's struggles. "Everything between us worked out pretty well."
With a new crew chief and other changes taking shape in the 29 camp, another noticeable change for fans in Lakeland was the Chip Ganassi Racing driver's new red and white Target/Texaco/Havoline paint scheme.
New crew chief, new car, new paint scheme, but the same Reed Sorenson. As usual the talented high-schooler brushed off the low starting position and put his savvy skills to good use. It didn't take long for the Georgia native to comfortably settle his Dodge into the top five.
In 2004 ASA tossed down new rules with differences in the restarts, leaving Roberts the opportunity to make some strategy calls which helped move Sorenson through the field.
"We talked about it before the race starting as far back as we did," Sorenson said of the decision to choose either the inside or outside lane. "Those first three restarts we went on the outside, it helped a bunch. It worked out in our favor. My spotter was telling me which line was faster."
The 13th and final caution flag of the 200-lap event flew with five laps to go while Sorenson found himself sitting in the fourth spot. When the green fell Sorenson was able to pass the Doug Stevens entry for third but on the last lap, 17-year-old Stephen Leicht mixed things up and claimed the position, settling Sorenson in at fourth as he crossed the finish line.
"We pitted twice which was mandatory, once for gas and once for tires. We got our tires around lap 80 and they were pretty wore out. All of the cautions were killing me. It took eight laps for my tires to come in after every restart so I knew I wasn't going to be good. Stephen got past me there at the end."
Sorenson and the entire ASA tour will get some time off before hitting the Lanier National Speedway in his native Georgia on May 1st. The race will be aired LIVE on the Speed Channel at 8 P.M EST.
In the meantime, Sorenson will be keeping busy as he tests various tracks. First, he will head to the Kentucky Speedway April 16th for an open ASAtest session and later in the month, test an ARCA car in Nashville before heading to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for another ASA test.
For more information on Reed Sorenson check out reedsorenson.com