12 Questions with NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson

Reed Sorenson brought a new sponsor to Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Zing Zang -- a Bloody Mary mix.

Our series of NASCAR driver interviews continues this week with Reed Sorenson, who is currently 34th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings in his first year at Tommy Baldwin Racing.

Q: When you’re on a long green-flag run and not racing around anyone, what do you think about?

A: Nothing crazy, I guess. Do people answer weird stuff for this?

No, not usually.

Yeah, because whether you’re in traffic or getting passed or a little bit of both, that kind of keeps you busy. You do have a little bit of time where you’re by yourself for awhile, but realistically, a lot of places we go now, you can start moving around and changing your lines. So I think that kind of takes priority over thinking about anything else.

Q: Fans often come up to you and want to discuss a moment or race from your career. Which one comes up the most?

A: Actually, a lot of people talk about (Indianapolis) when we were on the pole here in 2007. I had a few people talk to me about that this weekend.

Around the Charlotte area, people will talk about me running Legend cars (as a kid) and will bring up stuff I don’t even remember. So that’s pretty surprising to me to meet people who have watched for that long and are that big of race fans, but it’s cool to have people who were fans back then when you were 12 and 13 years old and still come to NASCAR races.

Q: If someone paid you $5 million to design a new racetrack and gave you an unlimited budget, what kind of track would you build?

A: Well, my favorite track is Dover. So I think I’d try to aim for that type of speed. Maybe I’d make it a little bit longer and just a little bit less banking. I might make it kind of like Darlington where you had two different (ends) — something where Turns 1 and 2 are different than Turns 3 and 4.

Would you stick with concrete?

I think I would. I’m a big fan of concrete because I think it stays consistent. If you think about most of the concrete racetracks we go to, they seem to put on good races. I feel like Dover has been the same for years, and it’s not just one groove. It seems to provide a bunch of different grooves for good racing. I think Goodyear is able to bring a good tire to those type of places.

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Q: If you had a day off to do anything in the world you wanted — but you were not allowed to race — what would you do?

A: I think going to outer space would be pretty cool. I guess they’re selling tickets now (for space tourism), right? That’s something not many people are going to get to do in their lives, so that would be pretty neat.

Q: You get to have a lot of cool experiences away from racing through your job as a NASCAR driver. What’s one that sticks out?

A: The coolest by far is being able to go up in an F-15. That was in 2009 when we were sponsored by the Air Force. We went down to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and then the next morning we got to go fly.

The flight itself was over an hour, and everything about it was awesome. Every time I’d been on a plane before then, you take off and it’s just normal. But this time, we pulled back and went straight up to 10,000 feet. We did a dogfight up there. We even got to refuel in the air, so I would pay money to do it again. It was so cool.

Q: When you go home after a bad day at the track, do you vent to someone about it or just keep it to yourself?

A: Sometimes you can talk to your dog — that seems to help, because they’re always happy. (Laughs) I’m not going to say I separate my work and my personal life, because that’s not true. I talk to my wife (Laura) and my family and friends. Sometimes it’s to vent, and sometimes it’s just to talk about it.

Q: If you had kids someday who were running around the garage, what driver would you point to as a good example for your children?

A: I think there are a lot of them. I don’t know too many of them on a personal level, but I think Jimmie (Johnson) — the way he conducts himself as a champion of the sport and is also a father, I think he’s one guy you’ve got to look at. He seems to do everything right.

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Q: When you stand around with other drivers and tell old racing stories, what’s one of your favorites to tell either about something that happened to yourself or someone else?

A: A lot of times, it’s when you remember something stupid someone did or you did as a driver. It’s only funny a few years later when you’re not so mad about it. You might have a beef with a driver and then a year later, you’re both over it and then you’ll talk about it and it’s not as big of a deal anymore — but at the time, it was.

I haven’t really gotten into too many beefs with people, but one time I spun out Dale Jarrett at Charlotte. And he was furious with me, but it was an accident — basically, I just ran straight into the back of him. I remember calling him the very next day, and he answered his phone. I apologized for about 10 minutes, and I think he kind of understood how bad I felt.

Growing up, that was one of the guys I watched and wanted to be one day. And now this guy was mad at me for wrecking him. So I think he could tell on the phone I was pretty upset about it. But from that day forward, he accepted my apology and we went on.

Q: What’s a TV show you’re really into right now?

A: I don’t know why I keep watching this, but Naked and Afraid. I don’t know how much those people are getting paid, but hopefully it’s enough to make it worth going through that stuff. It’s just interesting to see when you have none of the stuff we have today how hard it is to survive.

My wife got me watching The Big Bang Theory, so I’ve been watching that a lot lately. Catching up on all those.

I also always watch Kitchen Nightmares. That’s one of the things I want to do someday — cook a meal with Chef (Gordon) Ramsay. I think that’d be really fun.

You wouldn’t be afraid of Chef Ramsay yelling at you?

Oh, I’d be ready for it. I’ve watched almost every episode — if not all of them — so I’d be ready for it.

Do you cook much now?

I try. But he’d definitely yell at me if I was in a restaurant cooking. I try mostly simple stuff, so it’s hard to mess up most of the things I do. Actually, my wife and I have been to two cooking classes. That was fun, because everything you cook, you get to eat at the end as your meal.

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Q: What’s the last movie you saw — either at home or in the theater — and was it any good?

A: The last movie I saw was 22 Jump Street. I thought the first one was a little better, but overall, it was good.

Q: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self — something you know now that you didn’t know then — what would it be?

A: I guess I’ve learned a lot in this sport in general, and something I would probably reiterate is to just not burn any bridges. You never know who you’re going to see or be associated with in years to come. I’ve learned that through not only myself, but through seeing other people.

I’ve learned you never know what could happen — good or bad — and you need to keep all the ties you have on a positive note. I think a lot of people don’t look at it that way, but once you get in NASCAR and realize what a tight family it is, that’s something you need to keep in mind all the time.

Another thing is just to stay positive. This sport will drag you down real easily, and then it’ll bring you back up. So staying positive is a key thing.

Q: I’ve been asking each person to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Rusty Wallace, and he wanted to know: What are you going to do to grow the sport?

A: Well, we brought in a new sponsor this week (Zing Zang, a Bloody Mary mix). Any time we can bring in new sponsors or new fans — I know right now they’re trying to get a younger fan base into the sport — as drivers, our job is to be fan-friendly. We try to have that public image where we welcome more fans and sponsors, so that’s partially our responsibility to take care of that. And that’s what I’ll try to do.

Q: And do you have a question for the next interview? It’s with Brad Keselowski.

A: Hmm. It can be anything?

Yeah, anything you want.

I’m sure he’s answered this 100 times, but I’ve never heard the answer. I’d love to know what he’d be doing if he didn’t make it in racing. I know he grew up in a racing family, but what would he do if driving didn’t work out?

Follow Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck.

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