DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — By John Tejada, NASCAR — Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR photo — James Bickford went from a 25th-place finish in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut to winning his first career race and now top rookie honors in the series.
The 16-year-old Napa, California, native has clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title with two races remaining in the K&N West. Bickford holds a 32-point advantage over Rich DeLong III with events at All American Speedway in Roseville, California, and Phoenix International Raceway remaining in season.
Bickford, driving the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford, began the 2014 season with a tough outing at Phoenix and a 15th-place finish at Califonia’s Irwindale Speedway through the first two events. He finished 10th in the season’s third event at California’s Stockton 99 Speedway and from there would go on to post seven top fives and nine top 10s in his next 10 events, including his first career win at State Line Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho, on July 12.
Bickford is the third consecutive driver and fifth overall to earn the rookie title driving for car owner Bob Bruncati, who is known for providing an opportunity for young drivers to showcase their talent in the series. He joins current teammate Dylan Lupton (2013), Austin Dyne (2012), Luis Martinez Jr. (2010) Jason Bowles (2007) as drivers who have garnered the top rookie owners for Bruncati.
Past drivers to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honor in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West include Derrike Cope, Chad Little, Bill Sedgwick, Rick Carelli, David Gilliland and Dylan Kwasniewski.
Bickford will be honored for his Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.