Saturday, September 18, 2004
Driver's singular passion: racing
By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer
SPARTA, Ky. - For his first semester in college, Reed Sorenson signed up for three classes at UNC-Charlotte. Music. English. Calculus. But this 18-year-old is not your typical part-time student.
"Sometimes you might go two weeks in a row where you're testing cars two days and racing on the weekend and trying to go to school," Sorenson said Friday. "That's when it gets tough."
The son of a respected former short-track driver from Georgia, Sorenson is one of the American Speed Association's top drivers this season.
He will start sixth in the No. 29 Chevrolet in the BFGoodrich 225 today at Kentucky Speedway. The race, which begins at 8 p.m., is the last of the three scheduled during the Triple Header Fall Classic.
"We've had really fast cars this year," said Sorenson, who has four top-five and six top-10 finishes but no wins in 11 ASA starts this season. "It seems like we've had the car to beat plenty of times, but something has happened where we get beat."
A successful career that began in quarter-midgets at age 6 continues to blossom, and the 2003 ASA rookie of the year has joined a growing trend in stock car racing as a result.
NASCAR Nextel Cup car owner Chip Ganassi, who fields theDodge's driven by Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears, signed Sorenson to a driver development contract before last season.
"But I'm not there yet," Sorenson said, referring to the Nextel Cup series.
Fellow ASA competitors Kyle Krisiloff (Hendrick Motorsports) and Scott LaGasse Jr. (Chip Ganassi Racing) have signed similar deals.
LaGasse won the ASA race at Kentucky Speedway in May, but is not entered in tonight's race. Krisiloff will start 19th in a field that was set according to driver points when inclement weather cancelled qualifying.
"Teams are trying to get a couple (driver's) in the pipeline," said Brad Sorenson, Reed's father. "The thing to do is hire them young and weed out the ones that aren't going to make it.
"The ones that do make it, they're already under contract."
As one of four drivers in Ganassi's talent development program, Sorenson has made one NASCAR Busch Series start in the No. 41 Dodge this season. He's scheduled for three more.
Sorenson qualified third for the Kroger 200 last month at Indianapolis Raceway Park and finished 13th.
"We didn't beat the car up too badly," Sorenson said. "We got a lap down early, got back on the lead lap, finished all the laps. It was a good showing."
A meeting next week, Sorenson said, will determine whether he competes in the Busch Series fulltime next season.
"I think this is the only thing I could do for a job," Sorenson said. "I see what other people have to do and I don't see anything that I would want to do ... other than race."
If you go
Today's Triple Header Fall Classic at Kentucky Speedway features three races and a concert. For tickets, call (888) 652-RACE or go to