CONCORD, N.C. – Despite a 22nd place finish last week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers team is headed to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with a lot of momentum. The last two weeks, Reed Sorenson had strong runs with the potential of top-five finishes and consistently ran in the top-five during last week’s race before getting caught up in an on-track accident among the leaders.
This week the team will head to Darlington Raceway, where Sorenson has four NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) starts. Of those four starts, he finished in the top-10 twice with an average finish of 13. Sorenson’s best start and finish at the Lady in Black came in 2011 with a fifth and eighth, respectively.
Richard Petty Motorsports has one NNS start at the 1.366-mile oval with driver Michael Annett in 2012. Annett started 22nd and finished 14th at the historic South Carolina track.
Comments from the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Ford Mustang driver Reed Sorenson: “Darlington is a lot different than any other track that we go to. The shape of the track is so unique. The line that you run through Turns One and Two stands out to me the most because the closer you get to the wall the better you can run which isn’t the case at any other track.
“You have to go into the weekend with a short-track mentality but with a lot of speed. Darlington is a really fast track. By the time the weekend is over, most of the cars will have hit the wall, sometimes you can get away without a lot of damage.
“Richmond was the fastest that we’ve been on a short track, so hopefully we can carry that momentum into Darlington. These last two weeks, we’ve had really good cars, so we are definitely looking at running in the top-10 and being at the front in the end to go for the win.”
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Darlington: “After the last two weeks, we feel like we’ve had top-five cars in both races. Everything seems to be coming together now; it’s unfortunate it couldn’t have started earlier. Darlington tends to reward experienced drivers, and Reed is an experience driver. He knows that it’s not about having two fast laps at the beginning of a run, but that you’ve got to save tires for the long runs. We’re expecting to do well, and I think by the end of the race you’ll see all of the experienced drivers up front.
“Darlington is one of those race tracks that when you’re on you look like a rocket ship, but if you’re just a little bit off, you’re terrible. The disparity in speed is huge. It’s a really fun race track, but it’s more than just having a fast race car, you have to have a good pit crew, good pit strategy and you’ve got to have luck. Your driver has to respect the race track because if they get too busy racing someone, they’re going to slap the wall.
“Darlington is about as unique to race as a road course, just because of the way they have to drive it and the way they have to respect it. Our strategy is to focus on race trim in practice but also to work on qualifying because it will be important. Just starting toward the front helps there. It is easier to hold your position if you start up front, and you don’t have to race your car as hard and can save your car better. We’ll make sure we are good on the long runs. Even if the race is a green-white-checkered, it will pay dividends because there’s a good chance we’ll able to save a set of tires for the end.”
Chassis History: Lopez and the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers team will take chassis number 754 to Darlington Raceway. The team raced the same chassis at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year, where they started ninth and finished 16th.