BUSCH: Memphis: Reed Sorenson preview

No. 41 Discount Tire Team Fast Facts: * Hamlin Back to Help: Kevin Hamlin--a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) development driver--will lend a hand again this weekend, helping the No. 41 Discount Tire team with its...

No. 41 Discount Tire Team Fast Facts:

* Hamlin Back to Help: Kevin Hamlin--a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) development driver--will lend a hand again this weekend, helping the No. 41 Discount Tire team with its race preparations for the NASCAR Busch Series race at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park both Friday and Saturday. Hamlin will practice the No. 41 Dodge on Friday and qualify it on Saturday morning while Reed Sorenson is in Hampton, Ga., practicing and qualifying the No. 41 Target Dodge at Atlanta Motor Speedway to prepare for Sunday's NEXTEL Cup competition. Hamlin has already helped the Discount Tire team four other times this year--at Nashville Superspeedway, Kentucky Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and at the O'Reilly Raceway Park--piloting the CGRFS Busch Dodge during practice sessions to help the team get the car dialed in for Sorenson to qualify and race. Hamlin also made the qualifying run for the team at the Martinsville, Va. track in July and scored a ninth-place starting position. Before joining CGRFS, Hamlin--a Snohomish, Wash. native--grabbed consecutive championships in the NASCAR Northwest (NW) Series in 2001 and 2002. He became part of the CGRFS Development Driver program in 2005, and got his first NASCAR Busch Series start in the No. 4 Dodge at Pikes Peak in July of that same year. He finished 17th and went on to compete in 13 more Busch races that season. He started the 2006 season competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) for Bobby Hamilton Racing and finished 11th. His most recent Busch Series race was in the No. 4 Biagi DenBeste Racing Dodge at DIS this past July. Hamlin was running in fifth place and banking on at least a top-10 finish, when an empty gas tank turned his night upside down and ended with a 27th-place finish.

* Tight Deadline: Sorenson, along with a handful of other drivers, will not only be racing at the Memphis Motorsports Park this Saturday but will be racing to get there, as well. He will start his weekend in Hampton, Ga. on Friday, practicing and qualifying the No. 41 Target Dodge. He will then practice some more Saturday morning before jumping on a plane to fly to Memphis for Saturday's Busch race. He will miss Busch qualifying on Saturday to participate in Cup practice, so CGRFS development driver Kevin Hamlin will step in for the time trials. Sorenson is scheduled to touch down in Tennessee with just enough time to chopper over to the track for the pre-race festivities, before jumping into the car to go racing. After the Busch run on Saturday, Sorenson will then hop back on a plane to return to Georgia for Sunday's NEXTEL race.

* Still Standing Strong: A couple of weeks ago, the No. 41 CGRFS Busch team's night didn't play out as planned at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Instead of a potential top-five finish, the team's Friday night run concluded on lap 95 when the car's right-front gave out and sent Sorenson slamming against the outside wall. Although the incident concluded their night in 38th place, Sorenson and team still maintained their top-10 status in the NASCAR Busch Series championship standings, with the No. 41 crew holding onto its ninth-place spot in the owner ranks at 3,371 and Sorenson 10th in the driver standings with 3,286 points.

* Sorenson's First Run with Montoya: Juan Pablo Montoya will make his NASCAR debut on in the NASCAR Busch Series race this weekend at Memphis, which will also mark Sorenson's first official run with his new teammate. Montoya will pilot the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge on Saturday, which will be his third stock car race since joining the organization. He competed in the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega Superspeedway October 6 and grabbed the outside pole on his way to finishing third. He also ran in the ARCA Series finale at Iowa Speedway on October 15. He started third and led 12 laps before making contact with another competitor that sent him behind the wall for repairs. He eventually finished 24th. Montoya tested a NEXTEL Cup car at Memphis earlier this month, and also participated in his first official NASCAR sanctioned test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week.

Reed comments about returning to the Memphis Motorsports Park to go Busch racing on Saturday: "We kind of had the same luck at Memphis last year that we've been experiencing almost all year long this season. There were a record 15-caution flags, and when you have that many incidents on a shorter track it is almost inevitable you will get caught up in some of it and we did. We recovered from the early setback but the second blow did us in and ended our day.

"I am going to be spending most of my time at Atlanta Motor Speedway, so I have Kevin Hamlin helping out again this weekend. He's been a huge asset this past year in getting our cars dialed in and ready to run come race time. I am very thankful for his efforts this season. There are also going to be two Ganassi Busch cars at Memphis, with Montoya coming out there, as well. So, that is only going to help my guys and everyone else in getting ready to run on Saturday. Montoya is still learning but it is just nice for everyone to have another team to toss ideas back and forth. If my car is running a little too tight and his car isn't, then they can compare setups and just help everyone out. Brian [Pattie] also chose to bring probably the best car out of our shop, so hopefully we can capitalize on that, as well. Chassis #452 has been a great car for us on the shorter tracks, especially this second leg of the schedule. So, hopefully it will get us that win we've been hunting for all season. We had a great September, but October hasn't favored my Busch or Cup teams, but we'll work to regroup during these final four races and try to get a win. We ran well at Texas in the spring and very well at Phoenix so hopefully we can build on those previous runs there and then close it out on a positive note at Homestead."

-credit: cgr

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Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing