SORENSON TO RUN FIRST CUP RACE AT HOME TRACK: Peachtree City, Ga., native Reed Sorenson qualified for his first Nextel Cup race Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he won many races in a Legends car.
The 19-year-old driver of the No. 39 Discount Tire Dodge was among 16 drivers trying to race their way into Sunday’s Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500. Only half would make the cut.
Sorenson’s qualifying lap of 190.476 mph was nearly 3 mph faster than his best practice lap of 187.690. And it was a huge contrast to his qualifying effort in the spring Busch race at AMS, where he experienced transmission trouble.
"I was happy to get into fourth gear," Sorenson said. "I was very glad to get that out of the way. I was very nervous about that. I think we’ve got a pretty good car in race trim. I’m pretty excited about being able to race Sunday and we’ll see what happens."
Sorenson will start 22nd on Sunday, sixth among the drivers who were not guaranteed a spot in the race on points. Also in the race will be Martin Truex Jr. (8th), Kevin LePage (13th), Mike Skinner (15th), Johnny Benson (19th), Carl Long (20th), Bobby Hamilton (26th) and Chad Chaffin (31st). Going home are: J.J. Yeley, Boris Said, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Johnny Sauter,Robby Gordon, Stuart Kirby, Mike Wallace and Jimmy Spencer.
"Our goals are real simple," Sorenson said. "In your first race you want to run all 500 miles. That’s a win for the first race, so that’s our goal. If you do that here, you’re going to end up pretty well.
"The main goal is basically to make sure I don’t get into those guys in the Chase. I don’t want to mess them up in any way."
Sorenson said his team began planning for his first attempt at a Nextel Cup race about midway into the season and a little before the announcement that he would run both Busch and Nextel Cup schedules in 2006.
"Obviously you want to get at least a couple of races in. This is about as many as we could do, because David Stremme is running Homestead. I’m running Texas. We really didn’t have a car to run Phoenix with, so it got kind of shortened up. We ran as many as we could; wish we could have run a little bit more, but that’s the way it is."
"We’re planning on taking the same car (to Texas)," Sorenson said. "Hopefully, if nothing happens to it, we’re going to turn it around and get it ready for Texas."
Although he’s not complaining about getting his first Nextel Cup start in front of home fans, he said that wasn’t the way it was planned. "Actually, it’s weird it just worked out this way, because they already had David’s sponsors planned out for Charlotte, Homestead, Richmond and Chicago. It just ended up there were Texas, Atlanta and Phoenix left. We picked Atlanta and Texas and Atlanta just happened to be the first one. It ended up kind of cool. Hopefully we’ll have a good run."