NASCAR

Turner Motorsports releases Reed Sorenson

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

Turner Motorsports has released Nationwide Series championship contender Reed Sorenson, and said it has advised employees the team might downsize at the end of the season.

The two moves were announced separately Tuesday.

The team first said sponsor Dollar General had informed the organization is will not return next season. The loss of funding and the ''current economic climate'' led team owner Steve Turner to warn employees the organization could be scaled back in 2012.

Turner currently fields teams in the Nationwide and Truck Series.

Several hours later, Turner announced Sorenson had been released and former series champion Brian Vickers will drive the No. 32 at Kansas and Charlotte. The driver of the final three races of this season was not announced.

The departure of Sorenson was quizzical considering he's ranked third in the Nationwide standings and trails leader Ricky Stenhouse by 27 points.

Turner gave no clear reason for Sorenson's release in Tuesday's statement.

''We are continuing to evaluate our racing program as we look to the 2012 season,'' Turner said. ''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. 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.''

Vickers will be out of a job when Red Bull Racing closes at the end of the season, and with no top Sprint Cup Series seats available, he could land with Turner full-time in the Nationwide Series.

Sorenson had one win this year and 18 top-10 finishes. He led the points standings for three weeks.

Tagged: Reed Sorenson, Brian Vickers

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