Saturday, September 18, 2004

Driver's singular passion: racing


Kentucky Speedway

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 www.kentuckyspeedway.com.

1 p.m.: Gates open

2 p.m.: Pre-race concert

4 p.m.: I-Power Dash Series Kentucky 100

6 p.m.: NAEDSS Kentucky 150

8 p.m.: ASA BF Goodrich 225




PREP SPORTS
High school sports results, schedules
How Top Tens fared
Ohio games
Cardinals thump Aves
Q & A with Colerain's Kerry Coombs
Trojans pull victory out of air against Tigers
Offense again comes through for East
'Old-school' approach inspires Withrow win
Friday's other Ohio games
Photos of Friday's Ohio games
Kentucky games
Conner knocks off Boone
First-half stand leads to rout
Highlands shuts out Boyle Co.
Colonels' late kick KOs Tigers
CovCath ends long Beechwood string
Roundup of Friday's other Kentucky games
Q&A: Dayton coach Stephen Lickert
Photos of Friday's Kent. games

BENGALS / NFL
Williams has left Dolphins in lurch
Safety Beckett doubtful to play Sunday
Titans will test Colts' running game
Panthers take another hit with injury to Davis

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Orange have fans seeing red
Successful Classic striving for more
Budding rivalry not only on field
Bobcats could be tonic for reeling RedHawks
It's win or bust for weary 'Cats
Scandals continue plaguing Colorado

REDS / BASEBALL
Cubs 12, Reds 4
Tribute a trip to past for Nuxhall
Bonds joins Aaron, Ruth at 700 HRs
Rangers' Francisco suspended for season
Red Sox closing on Yankees

MOTOR SPORTS
Driver's singular passion: racing
Rain sets lineup for NASCAR

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Prolific striker blending in at NKU
Sports digest
Sports this weekend on TV, radio

BIG WEEKEND
Let's get this party started
Best places to eat
What's new downtown, on riverfront
Big events fill the weekend
Downtown event map (PDF)
More Big Weekend coverage