Phoenix II: Reed Sorenson race report

A TOP-FIVE FINISH IN THE ARIZONA DESERT FOR REED SORENSON AND THE DOLLAR GENERAL TEAM AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to Avondale, Ariz. for their second visit of 2010 at Phoenix ...


AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2010) -- Reed Sorenson and the Dollar General team traveled to Avondale, Ariz. for their second visit of 2010 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). Confident that he had a car capable of winning Saturday's WYPALL 200, Sorenson's charge to the front was slowed in the final laps when the power steering locked up. Despite having to strong-arm the car around the one-mile track, he brought home a fifth-place finish in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota.

On Saturday afternoon, Sorenson climbed behind the wheel of his Dollar General Toyota and prepared for 200 laps of exciting racing at PIR. Starting from the 14th position when the green flag dropped, he immediately went to work, advancing the No. 32 inside the top-10 by lap 19. On lap 22, the first caution of the afternoon occurred. Running in the 10th spot, Sorenson took the pause in green-flag racing to report on the car's handling to his crew chief, Trent Owens.

"The left front is popping over a lot more than during yesterday's practice," Sorenson said. "I don't have much front grip right now, either."

Owens called his driver to pit road for service on lap 24. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, made air pressure adjustments, went one-half round down on the track bar and packed the car with fuel. Their fast service gained Sorenson a position on pit road; however, with five teams opting not to come to pit road, Sorenson restarted from the 14th position on lap 30.

In only a few laps, Sorenson was back inside the top-10 and running the fastest lap times around the one-mile track. He continued to climb through the field, overtaking the sixth position by lap 39. As he circled the track, he updated Owens on the car's balance on lap 53.

"We lose front grip as we go," Sorenson said. He then asked, Did you put "a spring rubber in the left rear?"

"Yes," confirmed Owens. "Not during the pit stop, but this morning before qualifying."

"I think that might be why the left side feels a little funny," Sorenson said. "It feels like it's lifting the car a bit. That track bar adjustment helped the back of the car. It feels better now."

The second yellow flag of the afternoon was displayed by NASCAR for debris on the race track on lap 62.

"We're a little tight in the center and free on exit," Sorenson reported to the team. "Also, we might have some trash on the grill. We're spitting a little water."

"10-4," replied Owens before instructing the Dollar General crew on what adjustments he wanted made during the next pit stop.

Sorenson brought the No. 32 Toyota to pit road on lap 64. The No. 32 crew quickly changed four tires, made a track bar adjustment, removed the spring rubber from the left rear spring and packed the car with fuel. Sorenson lined the No. 32 up in the eighth position for the restart when green-flag racing resumed on lap 69.

"The balance in the front feels better," he said. "We just need a little more rear grip."

Sorenson continued to turn some of the fastest laps on the track, moving up to the seventh position on lap 69.

An accident in turn two on lap 117 brought out the next caution of the day.

"We're good," Sorenson told Owens. "We just need more rear grip."

Owens asked if it was a right rear slide or if the entire rear of the car was off-balance.

"The right rear is sliding," replied Sorenson. "The front felt good until the very end of the run, then it started to go away."

Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 118 for service and adjustments. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires with an air pressure adjustment to the right rear, went one-half round down on the track bar and filled the car with Sunoco fuel. Sorenson returned to the track and restarted from the eighth spot on lap 122.

Sorenson immediately reported to Owens that the car's handling had changed drastically. "It feels like a completely different car right now. We're dumping over on the right rear and have a bad chatter into turn one."

When the final caution of the day was displayed on lap 139 for debris, Owens continued to coach his driver, who had slipped back to the 10th spot on the last run.

"Nothing we adjusted on the car would have changed the handling that much," he told Sorenson. "I don't think we should sacrifice the track position right now and come to pit road."

The race returned to green-flag conditions on lap 144 with the Dollar General Toyota in the 10th position. Despite reporting that he was still wrestling with no front or rear grip, Sorenson drove up to the seventh position by lap 161. He overtook the fifth spot and was gaining on the fourth-place car when he reported that the power steering had locked up with 10 laps remaining in the race. Sorenson continued to wrestle the car around the track and when the checkered flag flew, the Dollar General Toyota was in the fifth position. He climbed from the car, rubbing his right arm and exclaimed he was glad he only had to drive it without the power steering for 10 laps!

"The Dollar General Toyota was really fast today," said Sorenson following the race. "The sun out here is pretty brutal and the track was slick. We were able to adjust the car well, but we think we had a problem with the last set of tires we put on the car. The handling changed a lot in that last run. We just did the best we could from there. We got up to fifth and were gaining on the No. 22 when the power steering went out. That was not fun, I can tell you that! It was hard to run fast laps like that. I was able to maintain where we were, but it hurt us there at the end. Other than that, the Dollar General team did great. It was a great day for us with another top-five finish. We are getting close to getting the car where we can win a race; we just didn't get up to the front fast enough today. All in all it was a great day for the Dollar General Camry!"

Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will make its final stop of the 2010 season next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-source: braun racing

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Drivers Trent Owens , Reed Sorenson