2010 is a revitalizing step back for Reed Sorenson. After struggling through and eventually losing his Sprint Cup Series ride at Richard Petty Motorsports last year, Sorenson ran the Nationwide Series with Braun Racing on the side, collecting two top-five and five top-10 finishes in just eight starts. That performance, capped by a third in Phoenix last November, was enough to prompt Braun to schedule Sorenson for at least 23 races in the No. 32 Toyota (sharing seat time with Brian Vickers) along with a handful more starts in the team’s No. 10 car.
Braun also tabbed Sorenson to run several Cup Series races in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota, hoping he can form the final piece of a complex puzzle as he plans a long-term transition to Cup. So far, the driver’s lived up to lofty expectations; in five NNS starts this season, Sorenson has two top fives, including a runner-up finish in Nashville in April. Suddenly, after a rocky past few years the court of both public and garage opinion is swinging toward the former hot prospect in NASCAR once again. Could more Sprint Cup opportunities for the 24-year-old be on the way? Sorenson spoke with Frontstretch at Talladega Superspeedway, assessing his past, present and future inside the sport.
Doug Turnbull, Frontstretch: It’s been tough seeing you struggle for the past few seasons, but you seem to have more bounce in your step this year. Tell us a little bit about your emergence with Braun Racing and how it feels.
Reed Sorenson: It’s going pretty good. I didn’t get to run the first three races, because [Brian] Vickers was in the car, but ever since then I have been in the car and have been having a good time. I almost won in Nashville (Sorenson finished second, chasing down winner Kevin Harvick in the closing laps). That was pretty cool, and I hope to get some more opportunities like that. It’s been great working with Dollar General, and everybody’s working real hard.
Turnbull: Talk a little bit about the foray into the Cup Series. Is this something that is supposed to be experimental in the short-term to get Braun Racing, whether it is with you or with someone else, an established Cup team? Or is it something where you are going hardcore every week, just looking to win or run well?
Sorenson: We’re gonna run seven races. We’ve scheduled out which races we’re running and everything. The All-Star is going to be the next one. Then we’re gonna run Indy, Chicago, the 2nd Charlotte, and Daytona [Pepsi 400], as well. [Editor’s Note: Sorenson failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 and already has run Texas. The team originally was scheduled to run Atlanta in March, but chose not to; they’re also listed on the Richmond entry list this weekend]. We’re gonna race them and try to learn as much as we can. We know that it is a tough step going to that side of the garage. The competition is tough, so we are going to try to ease our way into it.
Turnbull: Are you still nosing around the garage trying to find a Cup ride, or are you just mainly focused on getting your Nationwide ride up and going?
Sorenson: We’re just focused on trying to win. Braun Racing hasn’t won a race in a while. We’ve been close. I know that the No. 32 has gotten quite a few seconds. We’d like to get that win. So I think that’s our main goal right now.
Turnbull: How was last year, as far as your confidence is concerned? Did you stop believing in yourself as a driver?
Sorenson: It was part of the sport. There were too many drivers. When we [Richard Petty Motorsports] merged with Yates [Racing], Paul Menard obviously had his ride and we had several drivers. There were too many, and I was the odd man out. I had a good time there last year; it was a great group of guys. I think we had a good time together, and we did everything we could do to be successful.
Listen to Doug weekly on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Speedshop racing show with host Captain Herb Emory each Saturday, from 12-1 p.m., on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and on wsbradio.com. Doug also hosts podcasts on ChaseElliott.com and BillElliott.com.