Store chain Dollar General's decision to pull its sponsorship from NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series team Turner Motorsports has led the team's decision to drop its lead driver Reed Sorenson with immediate effect.
Sorenson is third in the Nationwide standings. The team's other two drivers Justin Allgaier and Jason Leffler are fifth and sixth respectively. Leffler is also facing the exit of his own sponsor, Great Clips, and is on the market for a 2012 ride. In the Truck Series, Turner Motorsports fields regular drivers James Buescher (currently second in the points) and Ricky Carmichael (16th).
The exact reason for Sorenson's abrupt departure from the team were not clear, although it was implied that Sorenson simply didn't fit with their plans for 2012 which were currently under review and evaluation.
"I'm not really sure what's going on," Sorenson said when reached by NASCAR.com on the phone, adding: "It's not good, though."
Sorenson will be replaced in the team's #32 Nationwide Series entry for the next two weeks by Red Bull Racing's Cup driver Brian Vickers, who himself is facing an uncertain future in NASCAR next season with the closure of RBR at the end of the year. Vickers has appeared on a part-time basis for Turner over the last four years.
"Brian Vickers is a proven winner at NASCAR's highest level. in addition to being a driver at Turner Motorsports over the last four seasons," said team owner Steve Turner. "He has worked with [crew chief] Trent Owens in the past which will allow us to immediately focus on the task at hand. We are confident Brian can help assess where we are, as a company currently, and the direction we are going as we build our programs for 2012 and beyond."
"I can't thank everyone at Dollar General and Turner Motorsports enough for this opportunity," said Vickers. "They have been so supportive of me both personally and professionally over the past few years, and it's great to continue this relationship for a few more races."
Before the news about Sorenson's replacement by Vickers, the team also put out a press release confirming that it was likely to be downsized as a result of the loss of its main sponsor.
"Due to the current economic climate, coupled with the decision by long-time marketing partner, Dollar General, to seek other sponsorship opportunities, Turner Motorsports has notified its employees of a potential downsizing at the end of the current racing season," said the press release. "It is hopeful the action will become unnecessary as the team continues to work with potential marketing partners for their Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series teams."