REED SORENSON SURGES TO A TOP-FIVE FINISH AT KENTUCKY WITH A WOUNDED DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA SPARTA, Kent. (June 14, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team headed to Kentucky Speedway this weekend for Saturday night's Meijer 300. After...
REED SORENSON SURGES TO A TOP-FIVE FINISH AT KENTUCKY WITH A WOUNDED DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA
SPARTA, Kent. (June 14, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team headed to Kentucky Speedway this weekend for Saturday night's Meijer 300. After leading for 49 laps, hard contact on a restart resulted in right front fender damage. With the hard work by the team on the repairs and determined driving by Sorenson, the No. 32 team rallied back to a solid fifth-place finish! The team remains in the fifth position in the Nationwide Series Owner's Championship point standings.
For the second consecutive weekend, NASCAR Nationwide Series teams and drivers prepared to battle it out under the lights. Starting the night from the seventh position, Sorenson moved inside of the top-five in less than one lap. He was running in the fourth spot when the yellow flag was displayed on lap one for an accident in turn four.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap six with the Dollar General Toyota restarting in fourth. By lap 12, Sorenson had climbed up to the third position. Crew chief, Trent Owens, reported to his driver that he was turning solid lap times.
"You're lap times are as good as the leader," Owens said. "The last couple of laps you've actually been a couple of tenths better."
On lap 21, the second caution of the night occurred as a car spun on the backstretch. As the field slowed behind the pace car Sorenson reported on the car's handling.
"The car feels pretty good," he said. "I wouldn't take the back out of the track at all. The handling back there is good. A little more front grip would be good as long as we can leave the back alone."
Owens instructed him to come to pit road on lap 22 and called out his instructions for a two-tire stop to the crew. The crew quickly changed the right-side tires, making an air pressure adjustment in the right front. The two-tire call gained Sorenson a position and he lined the Dollar General Toyota up in the second spot for the restart on lap 26.
The leader chose to restart from the inside line, putting the No. 32 on the outside of row one. As green-flag racing resumed, the Dollar General Toyota jumped ahead of the No. 18 and took the lead. By lap 51, Sorenson had driven to a 2.5-second lead.
The Dollar General team was beginning to prepare for their green-flag stop on lap 83 when the third caution of the night occurred on lap 74.
"We need a little more front and rear grip," said Sorenson. "It's tough to say if the handling is off or if we lost grip because the left-side tires are worn out. I don't want to tell you too much because it's so hard to tell since we only took two tires the last time. I don't want to take too much away from the rear. In traffic we could turn a little bit better."
On lap 75, Owens called him to pit road for service. The crew quickly put on four sticker tires and packed the Camry with fuel. Owens opted to not make any adjustments with this stop and to see how the four new tires affected the car's balance. A lengthy pit stop was costly and the No. 32 was moved back to the third spot for the restart.
"We got a long way to go still guys," Sorenson told his crew. "You've been really good all year. Just do what you do. We can get this back. We have a great car here!"
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 80. As he slipped back to the fourth spot, he reported that the car's handling had drastically changed.
"Real tight," Sorenson exclaimed. "We are way tighter than before. We don't have any front grip."
Despite the new challenge, the No. 32 car was gaining on the third position with each lap. "This just tells you how good clean air is here," Sorenson added. "It's huge!"
NASCAR displayed the yellow flag on lap 112 when an accident occurred in turn two. Running in the fourth position, Sorenson brought the Dollar General Toyota to pit road. With forecasted rain showers on their way, Owens instructed the crew to change two tires but made the last-minute call to make it a four-tire stop. The crew quickly changed the four tires with an air pressure adjustment and added fuel. The four-tire call cost the No. 32 track position as some teams elected to take only two tires.
"We'll be fine here," Owens reassured him. "The four tires will be to your advantage. Now we'll definitely hope for no rain."
Sorenson restarted from the eighth spot on lap 121, and quickly moved the Dollar General car forward. On lap 124, he took the seventh spot away from the No. 33. It wasn't long before he caught the next car and made the pass for sixth.
"Good job," Owens encouraged him. "Way to work turns one and two."
Debris on the race track brought out the next caution on lap 133. Sorenson reported that the adjustments had helped the car's handling but asked if they could free it up just a little more. Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 134 for a fuel-only stop and told the crew to go one round up on the track bar. Sorenson lined up in the fifth position for the restart.
As the cars began to charge down the front stretch for the lap 138 restart, the No. 12 car appeared to miss a shift, causing the No. 32 to make contact with him from behind.
"We got our front all tore up," Sorenson reported. "There's nothing wrong with the tires, it's all body. I don't have any vibrations."
Owens quickly and calmly began to instruct the team on the repairs to make as soon as the No. 32 car hit pit road. "There's a hole in the hood, let's get that patched good," he told the crew. "Get the top of the fender banged out so that it doesn't rub."
On lap 139, Sorenson came to pit road and the Dollar General crew went to work, changing the four tires and repairing the damaged car. They worked quickly and returned him to the race track on the lead lap.
As he lined up in the 21st spot for the restart, Owens told him, "Just be smart here. You're better than the cars around you. We may not make it back up to the top-five but we'll just get the best we can."
In two laps he moved up to the 17th position when a spinning car in turn two caused NASCAR to display the yellow flag again on lap 144. Sorenson reported that the tape on the fender was starting to flap. Owens instructed him to return to pit road so the team could apply additional bear bond.
"Can we go another round down on the track bar?" he asked.
"10-4," Owens answered. "Take your time and let's get it right," Owens told his team.
As he returned to the race track and prepared to restart the race, Sorenson had some encouraging words for his team. "The car's not too bad, Trent. We'll get a lot of these guys."
As green-flag racing resumed on lap 148 with the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in the 18th position, Sorenson looked like a man on a mission as he broke into the top-15 in only two laps. On lap 150, NASCAR called for the next caution because of debris on the race track.
The race restarted on lap 156 with a lot of excitement only one lap later. Just in front of the No. 32 Camry, cars collided, causing a pile-up in turn one.
"Go low, Go low, go low!" exclaimed spotter, Mark Gregory directing the driver away from the wrecking cars.
"Whew," said Sorenson. "That was close! I'm glad I was clear."
"You had that one hole," said Gregory. "That's why I was being so adamant about getting you to go low."
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 169 with the Dollar General Toyota running in the 10th position. Sorenson quickly went to work, charging past cars and advancing up to the sixth spot by the time the next yellow flag was displayed on lap 171.
Following the final restart on lap 175, he quickly advanced the No. 32 up to the fifth position. Unable to gain additional ground in the closing laps, the Dollar General team brought home their sixth top-five and 13th top-10 of the season with the fifth-place finish. The No. 32 team remains in the fifth position in the Nationwide Series Owner's Championship point standings.
"We had a really good Dollar General Toyota tonight," said Sorenson. "It's unfortunate that we got caught up in another car's missed shift on a restart and had to dig ourselves out of a pretty big hole. The chips fell in our favor and we somehow came out with a fifth-place finish. I really do think we had a car capable of winning here and that is very encouraging going forward."
Jacques Villeneuve will take over driving duties of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota as the NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its inaugural visit to Elkhart Lake's Road America. The former F1 and CART champion is undefeated at the road course, with two CART wins there (1994 and 1995).
-source: braun racing