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Day ends early for Sorenson

By Doug Gorman

Sunday afternoon's Nextel Cup debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway didn't exactly go the way Peachtree City native Reed Sorenson had hoped.

The Woodard Academy graduate and former AMS Thursday Thunder points champion ran into some bad luck at the Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 when he was involved in an accident on lap 134. Sorenson ended his Nextel debut in 41st place in a field of 43 cars.

“In your first race, you want to run all 500 miles,” Sorenson told the Associated Press. “That's a win for the first race.”

Sorenson started the day in the 22nd position, fell back early in the race, but was starting to work his way toward the front when he was knocked out of the race.

Sorenson, one of the top rookies on the Busch series, has signed a deal with car owner Chip Ganassi to race full time next year on the Nextel circuit.

Sorenson, who has won twice on the Busch Series this year, is fourth in that series' points standings.

Looking toward next year: Now, that Jeff Gordon isn't in the top-10 Chase for the Championship, he's looking towards next year by trying to turn in solid runs to close out the season. He did just that with a second-place finish Sunday at AMS. He is currently 11th in the points standings, but he says that really doesn't matter.

"In my opinion, we are not in the top-10 in points, so it doesnt' really matter where we finish," Gordon said."It's where we finish each race to get ourselves prepared for next year that counts.”

End of the line: Retiring NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace probably saw his Nextel Cup championship hopes go out the window when he was knocked out of the Bass Pro Shops/MBMA 500 on the first lap.

It was the third week in a row, Wallace didn't race an entire event.

"This pretty much knocks us out (of winning the chase). I had a great car at Charlotte only to get in that deal. I had a great car last week at Martinsville only to have that problem there" said Wallace.

"It's hard to believe that we came all year without any problems, and now it's been three in a row."

Wallace was making his 703rd start of his career. It his 43rd start at AMS.

Wallace has been on the AMS pole three times with two victories since making his debut in 1980.

Still getting it done: Doug Stevens has enjoyed plenty of success competing in the Legends series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Friday, Stevens, a resident of Lovejoy, and the 2005 Thursday Thunder Pro Division Champion, captured the first ever Pro Division Papa John's Invitational. Stevens started the race on the outside of the front row and took the lead for good on lap 26.