Saturday, November 27, 2010

NASCAR Off-Season Week 1: Focus on Reed Sorenson

Reed Sorenson speaks with crew chief Jimmy Elledge
during his stint driving for Red Bull this summer.
(Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Throughout the NASCAR off-season, I am going to be posting a weekly look at a lesser-known driver from the Cup, Nationwide and Trucks Series. For week one, we will be taking a closer look at Reed Sorenson.

Being at the track as a toddler while his father raced, it is no wonder Sorenson found a love of racing. Reed first drove a racecar when he was 6 years old, behind the wheel of a Quarter Midget. He competed in Regional Quarter Midget racing for several years, most successfully in 1997. That amazing season found Reed finishing in the top 10 in 42 of his 43 starts, taking home the National Championship, 40 top fives and 22 wins. Anyone watching back then could have guessed we would someday see Reed in the Cup Series.

Sorenson's five years in Legend Cars were just as successful; he won over half the races he started during his rookie season. Reed posts totals including 84 wins and 152 top five finishes in 183 starts. By the time Sorenson graduated from high school in 2004, he had a developmental deal with Chip Ganassi Racing. The 2004 season found Reed in ARCA and Nationwide racing. Sorenson claimed top-five finishes in all three of his 2004 ARCA starts; his first start at Charlotte Motor Speedway found him in the fourth finishing spot and his second ARCA race found him in Victory Lane. In his 2004 Nationwide starts, Reed claimed one top five finish, three top 10s and led several laps in the October race at Atlanta.

2005 brought Sorenson to the Busch Series as a full-time driver and eligible for the Rookie of the Year award. He won his first race, ended his freshman season in fourth place, and second in the ROTY competition to Carl Edwards. Reed joined the Cup ranks on a part-time basis in 2006 while also running as a full-time Busch Series driver. With five top-10 Cup finishes and 14 top 10s in the Busch Series, Reed put together a solid year in which he finished 24th in the Cup standings, 10th in the Busch Series and fourth in the Cup Series ROTY. 2007 brought Reed his first pole start in the Cup Series, a third-place finish at his home track of Atlanta, and a fourth-place finish at Charlotte.

2008 brought trouble to the Sorenson camp; his fifth-place finish at the season opener in Daytona was the highlight of his year. In a quest for owners points, Reed found himself temporarily replaced by another driver, had a short day because of a wreck at Talladega, and found himself moving to Gillette Everham Motorsports for the 2009 season. As 2009 began it was announced that there would be a merger between Gillette Everham and Richard Petty to form Richard Petty Motorsports. In order to keep the team financially able to operate, Reed raced for free for part of the 2009 season to keep his crew members employed.

Reed finished the 2010 season in the 12th place in season standings in the Nationwide Series, and 39th in the Cup Series. Sorenson ran a limited schedule for Red Bull Racing as a replacement driver for Brian Vickers and in later stages of the season for Braun Racing. Sorenson posted just one top-10 finish in his Cup season, but 21 top-10 finishes, and nine top fives in the Nationwide Series in 2010. With an 11.6 average Nationwide Series finish, Reed has shown he knows how to handle a car. With the right equipment in a Cup Series ride, he could be a title contender within a few years.

Reed plans to run a full-time Nationwide schedule with Turner Motorsports in 2011. Sorenson will be driving the No. 32 Dollar General Chevrolet Impala with engine support from Hendrick Motorsports in Nationwide Series racing. During the few weekends that Sorenson isn't in a racecar, Reed enjoys fishing, boating, and spending time with family and friends. He purchased his first home a few years ago on a lake so he can fish, have a boat right outside the back door, and have plenty of space for visitors. This 24-year-old has an impressive resume, has been successful at multiple levels of racing, and looks like he will have better equipment in 2011 to work with on the track. Sorenson is definitely one driver who NASCAR fans should keep an eye on in the coming years.


*Next week ... Cole Whitt
Amy McHargue

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