News & Media

Sorenson looking to make sweet music -- again

July 22, 2011, Joe Menzer,

LEBANON, Tenn. -- Reed Sorenson has a special place in his heart for Nashville Superspeedway.

It's where he won his first Nationwide Series race in 2005, when he started from the pole and led 197 of 225 laps to take the checkered flag in dominating fashion.

"I just remember we had a really good car. That was my first race here," Sorenson said Friday, where he participated in two practices for Saturday's Federated Auto Parts 300 in his No. 32 Chevrolet. "As soon as we got there that weekend, the car was good. We qualified on the pole and led a bunch of laps and the car just never fell off all day.

"A few people were having trouble blowing tires that day, so my crew chief actually kept telling me to slow down. I told him, 'But we're not abusing anything.' It was just rolling really good through the corners. It was a great day because [car owner] Chip [Ganassi] was here and my parents were here. So all in all, it was a very cool day."

It also seemed to set Sorenson sailing toward NASCAR stardom. The next season Ganassi also put him in a Sprint Cup car. But after four full seasons and parts of two others driving on the Cup circuit for Ganassi and two other car owners without scoring a single victory, Sorenson found himself without a ride in NASCAR's top touring series for this season -- forcing him to turn back to the Nationwide Series for full-time employment.

What might have seemed deflating has instead appeared to rejuvenate Sorenson. He won at Road America earlier this season for his fourth career Nationwide win and currently sits second in the season's point standings, only seven points behind leader Elliott Sadler.

Sorenson likened his situation with his new organization, Turner Motorsports, to Sadler's situation with Kevin Harvick Inc. Sadler also is a former long-time Sprint Cup regular who found himself without a Cup ride at the end of last season, but landed in a good Nationwide home at KHI.

The two are former Cup teammates who remain close friends and they talk frequently. Both have stated openly their desires to someday return to the Cup level. But first they have the business at hand -- which is to compete for this year's Nationwide championship. And both have stated how happy they are to be in equipment that permits them to challenge for wins and the Nationwide title.

Sorenson has not only the one win this season in Nationwide, but also seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 19 starts. So he has more top-five finishes this season in the junior series than he had throughout his Cup career that was comprised of 161 starts, when he registered the total of just five.

"Confidence obviously is going to be higher when you're in a more competitive situation," Sorenson said. "The way this sport is, I think you're better off being in a spot like where [Sadler] is or where I am than you are just to say you're still in Cup but you're riding around mid-pack or in the back all the time. I think him and I are kind of on the same page as far as feeling that way about it.

"For me to be able to work with [Nationwide sponsor] Dollar General again this year after building a relationship with them last year, to be with a company like that and have a chance to win races and win a championship every year, that's a pretty good deal. If you've got another offer on the table, it's going to have be a real good one to beat that."

Sorenson has added incentive to run well at Nashville. Dollar General's corporate headquarters are located relatively close to the track in Goodlettsville, Tenn.

"They're not too far from here, maybe half an hour," said Sorenson, smiling. "So we like to run good in front of them."

Sorenson seems to look back on his earlier run in Cup with an analytical eye that he hopes will help him if he's ever to return to the sport's top level full-time.

"In the Cup series, everything has to be just right for you to run good," he said. "If you look back over the past years at some guys who have been with the same teams, one year they'll struggle and the next they'll be on top. Last year or the year before, [Kevin] Harvick was terrible and his cars were off. Then last year and this year, he's one of the ones to beat every week.

"It can humble you real fast. I want to get back there, no question. But I want to make sure it's in the right situation with the right people. And hopefully I'll be a better driver by then, too."