Race Weekend Central

2011 NASCAR Driver Review: Reed Sorenson

Reed Sorenson

2011 Rides: No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, No. 82 MacDonald Motorsports Dodge
2011 Primary Sponsors: Dollar General, Rexall, K-Love, Crusader Staffing, Foametix
2011 Owners: Steve Turner, Pat MacDonald
2011 Crew Chiefs: Trent Owens, Stewart Cooper, George Ingram, Todd Lohse
2011 Nationwide Series Stats: 34 starts, 1 win, 7 top fives, 18 top 10s, 3 DNFs, fifth in points

High Point: When the yellow flag flew on lap 56 for Aric Almirola’s machine being stuck in a gravel trap after the afternoon’s third and final attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Justin Allgaier and crew celebrated the win over the radio. Then, disaster struck as the No. 31 team ran out of gas coming back to the line to take the checkers.

Ten minutes and countless reviews later, Allgaier’s Turner Motorsports teammate Sorenson returned to victory lane for the first time since 2007, handed the trophy after it was determined that Ron Fellows, who crossed the finish line first under the lap 56 yellow, passed Sorenson under yellow only because the No. 32 car had slowed to caution speed.

It was only a matter of time before Sorenson made his return to victory lane, but the odds of seeing that return happen on a daunting 4-mile road course had to be considered slim by even his biggest fans fans. Still, Saturday’s triumph was a full-circle moment for a driver whose career looked very uncertain just two seasons ago, losing a seat at Richard Petty Motorsports.

That weekend, leaving Wisconsin leading the Nationwide Series points standings and with full-time backing from Dollar General, Sorenson was looking every bit the contender he was back in his early days with Chip Ganassi Racing. The decision by Dollar General to back Sorenson in more than a partial schedule was completely vindicated on this Saturday afternoon.

Low Point: Third in the points and riding a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes, Sorenson suddenly found himself out of a ride after the fall Dover race, removed for what Turner Motorsports stated was an inability for the driver to effectively relay feedback back to his team. Rumors ran wild about what was really happening at Turner; did Sorenson’s run-in with teammate Allgaier at Atlanta, and subsequent threats that he was going to get him back at Richmond, lead to too much tension in the garage?

Did the Hendrick-backed team need to make room for Brian Vickers now that Red Bull Racing is closed? Whatever the reason, Sorenson was relegated to a second car at MacDonald Motorsports, slipped from third to fifth in points by year’s end and ended the 2011 season without a solid plan for the future lined up.

Team Ranking: Second of four. Sorenson didn’t finish out the 2011 season with the Turner Motorsports No. 32 team, losing the ride after the fall Dover race, Sorenson finished the season ahead of each driver in the Turner stable sans Allgaier.

2012 Outlook: The season’s conclusion overshadowed what until Dover was a resurgent campaign for the former Chip Ganassi Racing prospect. Bumped to full-time after filling in admirably for Vickers a season ago during his bout with blood clots, Sorenson had the No. 32 car at the front of the field early and often, leading the points for a good stretch of the spring and scoring the win at Road America.

Stories as to matters of performance and feedback, the official reasons for Sorenson’s firing, don’t seem to jive with the on-track results (teammate Jason Leffler was further behind in points at the time of Sorenson’s release, also running less consistently at the time). There was speculation run wild as to the real reason Reed lost his ride late in the 2011 campaign, and unfounded or not, the impact was disastrous; despite showing all of the talent that had the Georgia-native Cup racing in no time flat for CGR not five years ago, Sorenson’s on the outside looking in for 2012 as of this article.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C
2007 Grade: C
2008 Grade: D
2009 Grade: D+
2010 Grade: C-
2011 Grade: B

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