Reed Sorenson: NASCAR's Diamond In The Rough?

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IFebruary 18, 2009

Twenty-three-year-old, Reed Sorenson, hasn't had the successful Cup career he dreamed about growing up in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Signed by Chip Ganassi Racing at age seventeen, the young driver was already an accomplished winner in Quarter Midgets, Legend cars and the American Speed Association (ASA).

Sorenson, the quarter midget champion in his sophomore year of 1998, had 84 wins, 152 top fives and 166 top tens in just five-years and 183 starts in Legend Cars, and scored a Top 10 in seven of his eight starts before he went full time in 2003, becoming ASA Rookie of the Year.

Sorenson also graduated high school that year and signed with CGR.

With CGR, he won one ARCA Series Event, two then Busch Series event and captured five top fives and 13 top 10 with the team.

Sorenson also became the youngest pole winner in Indianapolis Motor Speedway two years ago at the tender age of 21.

Now, Sorenson is driving one of the most familiar car numbers in NASCAR history- Richard Petty's No. 43. Driving for The King, Sorenson knows the pressure is on.

"I'm not the only one who knows that I'm driving the 43, our team is part of the 43," Sorenson said. "The tire guys know it, the tire changer knows it, my car chief knows it, my crew chief knows it. Everybody knows it. We all feel the pressure but it's exciting. We have something to represent."

The last time the No. 43 went to Victory Lane was 313 races ago, when John Andretti won at Martinsville.

The current driver of that car was 13-years-old.

"They haven't had a lot of success since (Petty) got out so I'm trying to bring a little bit of that back," Sorenson said.

Former owner, Felix Sabates, said the young driver was "as good as he ever will be" after he announced he'd be leaving the team for what was then Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

His new team owner, however, has a very different opinion.

"I think he'll be good, I really do, because right now he's hungry. He's interested in driving a race car and that's what we need right now."

He's certainly off to a good start.

Sorenson was fastest in Daytona 500 Happy Hour this last weekend, and backed up his fifth place finish in last year's race with a ninth place effort in the 500.

Like the rest of the new Richard Petty Motorsports organization, if Daytona was any indication of things to come, this may be the breakout season Sorenson has been dreaming about since his days in Georgia.

Sources:, Jayski,, Racing Reference, News-Press out of Fort Meyer, Florida and for the quotes and facts used in this article.