NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2006 NASCAR Driver Review: Reed Sorenson

Reed Sorenson

2006 Ride: No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge
2006 Primary Sponsor: Target
2006 Owners: Chip Ganassi/Felix Sabates
2006 Crew Chief: Jimmy Elledge
2006 Stats: 36 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s, 24th in points

High Point: 14 races into the year, Sorenson was having little better than an average rookie season, with just two top-10 finishes to hang his hat on heading into Michigan in June. That weekend, the team initially struggled, but threatening weather caused crew chief Jimmy Elledge to make a late gamble, forcing Reed to stay out on worn tires to try and steal the win. While the plan didn’t work to a T, Sorenson still came across the line in fifth place by the time the skies opened up on lap 129, giving him what would turn out to be his best finish of the year.

Low Point: Coming off three consecutive top-20 finishes, Sorenson had high hopes to up the streak to four at Kansas in October. The team had already proven itself strong on 1.5-mile tracks, and Kansas fit that description; unfortunately, the only strength Sorenson proved over the course of the weekend was how to hit the wall. A flat tire just 18 laps into the race totaled his car and killed his momentum; not only did Sorenson wind up 43rd in the race, he started what would become a streak of three consecutive DNFs, eventually ending the season with eight straight finishes outside the top 15.

Summary: Just 20 years old to start the season, it was a bit of a surprise for Ganassi to promote Sorenson to Nextel Cup so young; while the future superstar showed flashes of brilliance, he also showed his age in a rollercoaster rookie season. Impressive runs that nearly sent the youngster to victory lane at Loudon and Dover were intermixed with debacles at Daytona, Talladega and Pocono where the yellow stripe on the back bumper played a part in some awful first-year experiences.

Inconsistency became the main problem for the No. 41 bunch as the year wore on; Sorenson failed to finish two consecutive races in the top 10 all season long. It didn’t help that the organization Reed drove for, Chip Ganassi Racing, failed to put any of its three teams in the Chase for a third consecutive season.

2007 Outlook: In his second year behind the wheel of a Ganassi Dodge, look for Reed to show marked improvement as he continues to mature behind the guidance of veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge. However, the loss of teammate Casey Mears leaves a little over two years’ Nextel Cup experience spread out among Ganassi’s three drivers; expect Sorenson to suffer some initial setbacks early on as he no longer has an experienced teammate to turn to for support.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C

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