THE FAT LADY NEVER SANG FOR HEMPHILL by Jeremy Troiano
Sorenson Dominates ARCA at LMS But Doesn’t Win
Sorenson was obviously disappointed with his finish. When the car's handling went away, he fell all the way back to sixth before moving back up to finish fourth at the checkers.
“We had the car to beat,” said Sorenson, who graduated from High School last week. “When we were out front there, the car was perfect. Late in the race, we ran over something on the track. I don't know what it was, but there was debris everywhere. I knew when we hit it, it wouldn't be good. We were pretty worried about it putting a hole in the radiator. The race went back green and everything seemed ok, but then a few laps later, it started pushing really bad. I got up into all the junk at the top of the track and almost hit the wall. It was downhill from there.”
Sorenson (left) and Ganassi team member Andy Graves look over the damage to Reed's valance after the race on Thursday.
Rookie driver Ryan Hemphill started on the pole in the TRIMSPA Dodge owned by Braun Racing and led the first five laps, but played second fiddle to fellow rookie Reed Sorenson, who was making his ARCA debut driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
18-year-old Sorenson dominated the event. He led from lap six and opened up a huge lead at times. Hemphill lurked in Sorenson’s shadows, but never could reach striking distance. During the SPEED Channel broadcast at one point he even admitted he may not have anything for the 77 of Sorenson.
Thanks to the nutrition suppression of TRIMSPA, the fat lady never got to sing Hemphill’s song. Sorenson's car fell off late in the race. The handling went away, either through damage caused when he hit some debris on the track or just by overdriving the car. Either way, Hemphill was able to pounce on last year’s ASA Rookie of the Year. Hemphill regained the lead and then set sail into the night to collect his second-straight speedway ARCA win.
“So far, this is a dream come true,” said Hemphill, also a Ganassi Developmental driver. “The team and I look at this as three wins in a row considering the misfortune we had a Nashville when we were dominating that race and got wrecked by a lapped car. Tonight, I didn't think we were going to win, but we stuck to our game plan and it worked out in the end.”
Hemphill ran his race and his team's strategy, but most of the night, it didn't look like he was going to catch his Ganassi Development Driver teammate.
“Reed was fast. I wasn't surprised because he is in great equipment and he is a great driver. Whether he burned up his equipment or not, I don't know; but I was sticking to my game plan and sticking to my pace. I was trying to run without abusing any more of my tires. I'm happy because we stuck to our game plan and I didn't try to stick with him and overdrive it. Perseverance and patience really paid off tonight.”
It’s never over until the fat lady sings; isn’t that what they always say in racing? For Ryan Hemphill the fat lady never sang during the ARCA race on Thursday night at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That’s because she is on “TRIMSPA Baby.”
There were several times you could see Sorenson just fighting to keep the car off of the wall and off of the other cars around him. However, the rookie kept his poise and kept the car in one piece.
“We fell back to sixth, but were ale to work our way back up to third and (Frank) Kimmel got us right at the checkered flag. It is disappointing to run up front the whole race and not be able to come back with a win.
“I really thought we did have a chance at it late in the race after we passed the 77 (Sorenson),” said Hobgood. “We started gaining on the 64 and I thought we really had a chance at it. It was all in the racecar. This racecar was awesome. I just couldn't get used to the car on restarts. I wasn't used to that much power.”
Hobgood was driving a car for Arnold Motorsports, who fields cars in the Nextel Cup Series.
“A top-10 would have been nice, so to get second was unbelievable, especially here at Charlotte where there have
Justin Hobgood finished a surprising second-place at Lowe's, just hoping for a top-10 run in his first ride in the #50 car.
“We had the best car in race-trim. Once the green flag dropped, we took the lead and I was just cruising because the car felt perfect. After that happened, it just went to junk. I guess we will just have to wait till Michigan and go for that first win there.”
It wasn't all cruising for Hemphill after he retook the lead. The race was extended a few extra laps because of a long caution period at the end of the show and many teams were fearful of running out of fuel; some did.
“We were coming to the green flag for the green-white-checkered and I got into fourth great and it just died,” said Hemphill. “I was like 'oh boy.' Then it came back to life and I was just flat-footing it through one and two. I was sick to my stomach for a few seconds there. It was the same feelings I had at Nashville to think that we might have it that close and it might be slipping away. I guess I just had to get the carb cleaned out, because it picked right up and we took off to the finish.”
The other story of the night was that of the second-place finisher. Former Dash Series driver Justin Hobgood opened a lot of people's eyes and was a contender for the win, but just didn’t have enough time to catch Hemphill in the 100-mile event.
always been so many good cars. My dad and my brother came up and helped me work at nights on this car. Two nights me and my brother worked 46 hours straight on that racecar trying to get it ready.”
In the end, Sorenson, Hobgood and no one else had anything for Hemphill, who heard the now slim and fit fat lady singing him on to Victory Lane.