The Lugnut Report: Reed Sorenson Battles Back for Top 20 Finish in Bristol

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IAugust 23, 2009

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 14:  Reed Sorenson, driver of the #43 Auto Valve Bumber to Bumber Dodge, waits on pit row during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Michigan 400 at Michigan Internetional Speedway on August 14, 2009 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Sitting 28th in points after a 29th place finish at Michigan International Raceway, it almost seems that 23-year-old Reed Sorenson is racing for his job. One week after a crew, crew chief and car switch between he and teammate A.J. Allmendinger, Sorenson was looking to turn his luck around.

"I'm still enjoying myself and doing the best I can," the Georgia native told The Canadian Press. "I've just got to keep digging."

The weekend for Sorenson and new crew chief Sammy Johns immediately got off to a strong start when the No. 43 Dodge ended the first practice sixth on the podium and ran in the top five for most of Happy Hour before ending the session 13th.

Their good times would keep rolling in qualifying, when Sorenson laid down a 123.610 mph lap to qualify 10th.

In an effort to grasp the often treacherous Bristol Motor Speedway, Sorenson would also pilot the No. 1 Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Chevrolet for James Finch in the Nationwide Series.

Sorenson, who started 12th, was led to the green flag of the Food City 250 by polesitter Brad Keselowski, and ran in the top 15 for most of the night

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On lap 52 Sorenson was racing for ninth with Stephen Wallace when Kyle Busch made a pass for the lead and was subsequently wrecked by the lap car of Chase Austin, who suffered a flat tire.

“(I) Actually came off the corner and hadn't used much break in this car; seems like I touched the break and I was sideways. And I was going down the straightaway sideways and headed straight for the inside wall and was trying to hold on to it. The (No.) 07 (Austin)'s pretty ridiculous what he did to the (No.) 18 there.

“It's fun, I enjoy running in the Nationwide Series and stuff like this happens here. I just hate it for these guys.”

The Finch team was unable to get the battered car back on track, and Sorenson finished 35th.

Polesitter Mark Martin led the field to the green flag after an absolutely electrifying pre-race show at 7:49 Easter time.

Sorenson started on the outside, the preferred line in the Nationwide event and raced side by side with Juan Pablo Montoya to keep his position. On lap four Dave Blaney nearly made contact with the No. 43 as he began to fall through the pack.

On lap 10 Sorenson tapped the No. 20 of rookie Joey Logano, sending him into the wall and bringing out the day's first caution. He had fallen back to 11th.

Green flag on lap 16. Two laps later Sorenson, complaining of a tight car, fell back to 13th. The tight condition would keep him falling, as he ran 19th and continued to slip back 27 laps in the race.

On lap 46 Sorenson, on the outside, battled side by side with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the 20th spot before being passed. Hanging on in the upper groove, Sorenson trudged on in his tight race car.

For 24th to 30th a heavy battled with the likes of Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and several others raged on, chasing down the No. 43 until, on lap 64, when Hamlin had a tire go down.

After the No. 18 of Kyle Busch made contact with one of the tire carriers, Sorenson fell 13 spots on pit road to 35th for the restart on lap 70.

Battling his way back up front—and out of the clutches of an approaching leader Martin—Sorenson battled side by side with Edwards before moving on to his teammate, Elliot Sadler. Making it up to 28th, the Valvoline Dodge lost a lap on lap 133.

Three laps later another Richard Petty Motorsports car, the No. 44 of A.J. Allmendinger, lost a brake rotor to bring out the race's third caution. Sadler would get the free pass, and Sorenson was shown back on the lead lap.

Sorenson silently raced in the early twenties, making a pit stop on lap blank. After the restarts blank laps later, the No. 43 crew again cost their driver positions, sending Sorenson back to 26th.

Going three wide with Jeff Burton and Kasey Kahne on the lap 170 restart, he once again begins racing his way towards the top 20, jumping to 21st and continuing to drive hard. He again made it three wide Earnhardt, Jr. and 83 of Brian Vickers to finally re-enter the top 20.

Pit stops came on lap 258 when John Andretti brought out caution. Again, Sorenson fell back to 25th because of the stop.

From there, Sorenson seemed to be stalemated in the early twenties, until, around lap 310, he began gaining momentum and chasing down cars, re-entering the top twenty and sitting 19th.

After the pit stops on lap 356, the No. 43 Valvoline Dodge took four tires and an air pressure adjustment, just losing one position. Their driver continued gaining momentum on the restart, passing David Ragan and Kevin Harvick to rocket to 16th place.

By passing Jamie McMurray with 120 laps to go, Sorenson re-entered the top 15 for the first time since lap 18. A heated battle between he and Harvick, however sent him back to 16th.

Sorenson narrowly escaped a big disaster; running 14th, he barely missed the colliding teammates Harvick and Bowyer. Casey Mears, Sam Hornish, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Brian Vickers were also collected in the incident that brought out the seventh caution of the night.

On lap 459. the No. 43 team once again made a pit stop under caution, taking just two tires and restarting 16th-- just three spots from where he was running under green. However, despite the new tires Sorenson began to slip back, settling in 18th on lap 471.

Prior to the restart on lap 486, Sorenson began complaining, yet again, of a tight condition on his car. Once the field went back to green he did begin to pick up positions again, gaining momentum as he improved to 17th.

Sorenson would end the day 19th after getting passed late by Jeff Burton. It was his 11th top 20 of the year, including one top 10 that came in the season opening Daytona.

In two weeks the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta to race under the lights for the Pep Boys Auto 500; it'll be ESPN's last Cup race before switching things over to sister station ABC.

On September fourth Sorenson will be hosting his annual charity golf tournament at the Eagles Landing Country Club in Stockbridge, Georgia to raise money for Speedway Children's Charities. For more information visit Magnolia Golf Group, Speedway Children's Charities, or Reed Sorenson's website. To get updates on Sorenson during the race, head to Twitter and follow @rpmotorosports.

For Jeff Gordon's Lugnut Report, click here. If you'd like to read the Michigan Lugnut Reports, click here for Juan Pablo Montoya and here for Casey Mears.