December 3, 2013 — Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Sacramento, CA — He may have started his career later than most of today’s rising talents in the NASCAR touring series ranks, but don’t tell Dylan Lupton that.
In fact, when you talk to the California driver, he’ll tell you it only serves to motivate him even further in his quest to make a place and a name for himself in the ranks of professional motorsports.
Lupton, who turns 20 on Saturday, just finished up a breakout 2013 rookie campaign in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Driving for veteran car owner Bob Bruncati and the Sunrise Ford Racing team, Lupton’s season was highlighted by Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and his first-career win at the Evergreen Speedway in June, holding off Greg Pursley on his way to the historic triumph.
“If you’d have asked me at the start of the season if we’d have had this much success, I’d have said ‘No way.’ I knew we’d be competing for top tens and top fives for a good portion of the season, but I never expected that we’d be able to be as consistent as we were. Fifth in the points, Rookie of the Year, and a win? Even I’m shocked at how well things came together.”
All this coming from a young man who rode dirt bikes as a young kid and didn’t start his formal racing career until 2007 racing go-karts, when most of his peers started their racing careers at 5, 6, 7 years old. For Lupton, the road has been a slightly different one, but it’s certainly paying dividends now.
“Yeah, we got started later than a lot of the guys my age that I’m racing against now, but that hasn’t stopped me from pushing hard. I know I’m capable of leaving a big impression, and I’m ready to make that happen.”
And he’s certainly already started to make those impressions count. Two karting championships, a track championship at the Irwindale Speedway in his rookie stock car season in 2010, and two seasons in the NASCAR All-American Series Late Model ranks resulting in four victories and a 17th place finish in the WHELEN All-American Series national standings in 2011 served notice that not only was Dylan Lupton ready to compete, he was ready to contend at the next level as well.
Enter Bob Bruncati, who hired Lupton during the 2012 offseason to a two-year deal with his Sunrise Ford team after seeing Lupton compete on the West Coast. For the veteran car owner, Lupton was another driver, like Derek Thorn, like Jason Bowles, that he saw something in that could be developed into a race-winning and championship-contending outfit, just as his teams had done in the past.
Lupton certainly lived up to his end of the bargain, becoming the fourth driver in seven years to score top rookie honors driving a Bruncati-owned Ford (joining Jason Bowles in 2007, Luis Martinez in 2010 and Austin Dyne in 2012). Add in the win at Evergreen, over a former champion of the series no less in Greg Pursley, and you’ve got the recipe for what both driver and team hope can be a championship run in 2014.
“We were good this year, better than what we expected, but we want to be great next year. We want to make it happen and give Bob Bruncati a championship two years in a row.”
If he can make it happen, it would certainly be the resume boost that the young standout hopes will lead to some starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Nationwide ranks going forward. And why can’t he? His teammate Derek Thorn did it this year, with Lupton watching on. Jason Bowles did it back in 2009. There’s no reason to believe Lupton can’t be the next driver to elevate Sunrise Ford to the top step of the podium.
“I certainly hope we can. It would be a dream realized.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images for NASCAR
Listen in on our exclusive interview with Dylan Lupton, as he talks his rise up the ranks, his 2013 success and his plans for 2014: