Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sorenson joins Gillett Evernham; Montoya only Sprint driver left at Ganassi
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The pieces continue to unravel within the Sprint Cup organization of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Driver Reed Sorenson on Tuesday signed a multi-year deal to join Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2009. Less than a month ago, Sorenson said he was trying to negotiate an extension at Ganassi.
The announcement came a week after Texaco Havoline revealed it would not return as the sponsor of Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42 Dodge next year and two months after the team of Dario Franchitti folded due to a lack of sponsorship.
That leaves Montoya as the only driver signed for next season, and his car is sponsored for only half the year.
Team officials did not immediately return phone calls.
Details surrounding Sorenson's deal at GEM were not announced. It is not known whether he will replace Patrick Carpentier in the No. 10 or the organization will expand to four cars.
Sorenson said GEM officials continue to seek sponsorship for Carpentier, indicating there will be four teams if that happens. If not, Sorenson is expected to take over the No. 10 in a three-car operation that includes Kasay Kahne and Elliott Sadler.
Tom Reddin, the CEO of GEM, said such details would be announced in the future. Meanwhile, he's excited to have Sorenson with a multiyear deal.
"He is a highly marketable young driver who knows how to win races, and has a long career full of promise ahead of him," he said.
Not everyone apparently agrees. Felix Sabates, the co-owner at Ganassi Racing, told NASCAR Scene on Sunday at Bristol that "Reed is today as good as he's ever going to be. If somebody else wants to put him in a car, fine with us."
The numbers don't dispute Sabates' claim. Sorenson is 31st in points and has only five top fives and 13 top 10s in his two-plus seasons in Sprint Cup.
But the Georgia native does have three wins in the Nationwide Series and he won championships in Legends and Quarter Midget racing before moving to NASCAR.
"I hope not," Sorenson said when asked if he's as good as he'll get. "I plan on winning some races and going for championships here sooner than later. I respect Felix a lot. He's been a great guy to me.
"Him and Chip have both been two great mentors for me and I enjoyed working for him and working with him. And I definitely don't plan on not winning races."
Sorenson would not indicate how long he has been in negotiations with GEM or if any other teams were involved. He simply felt it was the right time to move on.
"I felt like I've done everything I can with the situation I'm in now," he said. "Like I said, it just seems like last year, it got a little bit worse as far as not being able to find speed at some of these places."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.