Phoenix II: Reed Sorenson race report

Sorenson and the Dollar General team bring home a third-place finish from PIR AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 16, 2009) -- This weekend, it was Reed Sorenson behind the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway.

Sorenson and the Dollar General team bring home a third-place finish from PIR

AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 16, 2009) -- This weekend, it was Reed Sorenson behind the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway. Sorenson solidly drove in the top-seven for the majority of Saturday's Able Body 200. In the final laps he climbed into the top-five, taking the checkered flag in the third position. The finish marked the Dollar General team's 11th top-five and 18th top-10 finish for the season, moving the No. 32 team into seventh-place in the 2009 owner's point standings.

The Dollar General team knew they had a solid Camry all weekend at the Avondale-based one-mile track. Sorenson sat on top of the practice charts for Friday's final practice session with a fast lap of 27.506 seconds. He bettered that time during Saturday morning's time trials, logging a 27.274-second lap that put the No. 32 in the 10th position for the afternoon's race.

Following a very surprising afternoon shower, Sorenson climbed into the Dollar General Toyota and tightened his belts, ready for 200 laps at the desert track. He immediately advanced the Camry through the field, taking over the seventh position by the time the first caution of the day came out on lap 8 for an accident in turn two. With the race in the early stages, Sorenson and crew chief, Trent Owens, agreed it was best to remain on the track during the caution. The race resumed on lap 13.

The ensuing green-flag run was the longest of the afternoon. During the 65-lap run, Sorenson moved the Dollar General Toyota into the sixth position. He reported to Owens that he was battling a tight-condition on the exit of the turns. "I am sliding the nose on late-exit," said Sorenson. "We are a little free on entry. It would be best if we can fix the exit without changing the entry."

Debris brought out the next caution on lap 78. Two laps later, Owens called Sorenson to pit road for service. The Dollar General team quickly put on four sticker tires, made track bar and air pressure adjustments and packed the car with fuel. Sorenson restarted the race from the ninth position on lap 84.

On lap 91, the caution flag flew again for debris on the track. Running in the seventh spot, Sorenson reported that the adjustments made during the first pit stop had helped the car to start out a lot more free. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 96.

Two laps later, a multi-car wreck in turn four brought out the next caution flag. Sorenson told Owens that the Dollar General Toyota was "plenty loose on entry. I can handle it as long as we don't do anything else to the back end of the car." As NASCAR officials displayed the red flag and worked to clean-up the debris that littered the track, Sorenson and Owens discussed whether or not they should pit.

"Let's see what happens and who comes to pit road when they lift this red flag," said Owens. "I just don't want to be the last car out with old tires."

"I think we'll be fine either way," Sorenson replied with confidence.

As the yellow flag was displayed, Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 101 for service. The Dollar General team changed four tires, made a slight air pressure adjustment and filled the car with fuel. Sorenson lined the car up for the restart in the eighth position on lap 106.

Working his way to the front, Sorenson moved into the sixth spot on lap 107. To prepare for the final pit stop, Owens asked his driver if he needed any adjustments with the car's handling.

"Those last adjustments definitely made us looser on entry," replied Sorenson. "It didn't seem to change the exit."

Owens called out adjustments to the team for the next pit stop, asking for air pressure adjustments in the next set of tires, two rounds down on the track bar and a half can of fuel.

A caution on lap 152 gave the Dollar General team the opportunity they needed to make the changes. Sorenson brought the Camry to pit road on lap 155 for service. The crew quickly changed four tires, made the track bar adjustment and added the fuel. As green-flag racing resumed on lap 157, the Dollar General Toyota restarted from the seventh position.

Sorenson's quick reaction kept him out of trouble in turn four. He dove beneath the two cars in front of the No. 32 as they made contact and went spinning behind him. Before the first green-flag lap of the run was completed, the final caution flag of the afternoon was displayed.

Lining up for the restart, Sorenson questioned why a competitor was being placed in front of him. "I just have to ask, how in the world is he starting ahead of me when I saw him spinning in my mirrors?" he asked with frustration.

Owens agreed that he did not understand the line-up. "I have no idea," he replied to Sorenson's question. "It's probably the last scoring loop. Let's not worry about it now. You'll have no problem getting back up there." Green-flag racing resumed on lap 164 with the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in the sixth position.

In the final laps, Sorenson charged the No. 32 Camry into the top-five. Closing in on the rear bumper of the second-place car, the team was desperately hoping for a final caution. The race, however, remained under green-flag conditions and Sorenson took the checkered flag in the third position.

"We had a great Dollar General Toyota today," said Sorenson. "The car started out free in and tight on exit but Trent [Owens] and the Dollar General team did a great job at making adjustments on each of our stops. I think the sun going down helped the car's handling as well. We had a car close at the end to contend with Carl [Edwards] but we just couldn't get up there. We needed one more caution. It was a lot of fun and I want to thank Braun Racing and Dollar General for the opportunity to drive for them this year."

David Reutimann returns to the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend in his home state of Florida when the Nationwide Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway. The series finale will mark his fifth appearance in the car for the 2009 season.

Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford 300. The Saturday afternoon race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2 and on MRN Radio starting at 4:00 p.m. EST. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 4:30 p.m. EST.

-credit: br

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Drivers Trent Owens , David Reutimann , Reed Sorenson