It’s been an up and down year for last season’s K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year and Class of 2015 NASCAR Next team member, James Bickford. But that all went out the window as the 17-year-old scored his second K&N Pro Series West feature event win on Saturday night, at the same place where he won his first.
“Coming back to Stateline Speedway, I knew we had a good car, because we brought the same car we did last year, where we won,” said Bickford “Going into this race, I knew we had a strong shot, we were first in practice and on the pole for the race.”
Bickford and his Bruncati teammate Ryan Partridge led the 18-car field to the green flag on the quarter-mile oval at Stateline Speedway (ID). Bickford quickly got the advantage while Eggleston battled Partridge and took over second. While Bickford maintained his slight lead, Eggleston and Partridge maintained their battle adding Havens, Mayhew and McReynolds to the mix. Bickford would open up a three car lead before the first caution for the spin of Matt Levin.
At the green flag restart, a local favorite, Braeden Havens had a transmission issue and got hit from behind and was sent spinning to bring out the second caution of the race.
Running side by side and swapping paint, Bickford and Eggleston brought the field around for the restart. Eggleston edged ahead, but Bickford came back and took the lead once again. Once Bickford cleared Eggleston, Partridge looked underneath to take the second spot, with Eggleston retaining second. Bickford increased his lead as the battle for second continued behind him with Eggleston, Partridge, Mayhew and McReynolds.
Bickford maintained the lead through the halfway point with a 10-car length advantage on Eggleston, as Jefferson-Pitts teammates started to make their move. The next caution was for the spin of the second local driver in the field and fan favorite, Blake Williams, who was making his K&N Pro Series West debut.
The race is slowed again at lap 100 for the spin of John Wood, who backed into the turn three retaining wall. Driver was okay, but the car was retired for the night.
Bickford would pick right back up at the green flag to take over the lead, while Gracin Raz and Noah Gragson had moved into third and fourth-place, respectively. NASCAR Next driver and fan favorite Nicole Behar started making her move through the field after an earlier flat tire., but contact was made between her and David Mayhew to bring out the caution once again. After the spin, both drivers kept going. Mayhew went to the pits for repairs and returned quickly.
Raz stayed tight with Bickford on the restart for a run at the top spot. Behar continued her run to the front, but made contact with Eggleston along the way and he spun. Behar was posted for the contact and headed to the back for the third time of the race.
Nine laps to go and back to racing, Bickford edged slightly ahead for the lead with Raz staying side by side for a couple laps. Bickford pulled away to a comfortable five car lead, leaving teammates Gragson and Raz battling for second. With the laps winding down, the caution flew again for the spin of Alex Schutte, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Contact from the back saw Raz getting a little out of shape on the restart while Bickford created a little breathing room. Raz and Gragson battled it out all the way to the checkered. Following Bickford across the stripe, Gragson edged Raz for the runner-up spot, followed by Partridge and Williams in his debut for fifth.
“The Sunrise Ford/Interstate Classics car was on point tonight, said Bickford in victory lane. “(I) couldn’t be more thankful of all the crew and Bill Sedgewick, Bob Bruncati and Ryan Bruncati for giving me a great car.”
-By Shari Garber, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Unofficial Results
Stateline Speedway (ID) – July 10, 2015
|1||6||James Bickford||Sunrise Ford/Interstate Plastics/Eibach||157|
|2||7||Noah Gragson *||Alert I.D./Collier International/JPR||157||0.292|
|3||27||Gracin Raz *||Trinity Energy||157||0.415|
|4||9||Ryan Partridge *||Sunrise Ford/Eibach Spring/Lucas Oil||157||0.654|
|5||55||Blake Williams*||McClintock & Turk||157||0.892|
|6||30||Ron Norman *||Port of Tucson||157||1.529|
|7||33||Nicole Behar *||Custom Welding & Fabrication||157||1.952|
|8||16||Brandon McReynolds||NAPA Auto Parts||157||2.281|
|9||21||Alex Schutte *||Proficio||157||2.321|
|10||17||David Mayhew||MMI Racing/Ron’s Rear Ends/Pour House Chevrolet||157||2.421|
|11||99||Chris Eggleston||NAPA Belts & Hoses/H20 Fire Protection||157||2.584|
|12||31||Johnny White *||MMI Services||157||3.033|
|13||84||Rich DeLong III||Country Girl Saloon/Ron’s Rear Ends||156||1 Lap|
|14||14||Matt Levin *||Port of Tucson||156||1 Lap|
|15||36||Rob Powers *||O-F Racing/SITECH||105||52 Laps|
|16||6||John Wood||Hollerans Performance||100||57 Laps|
|17||38||Dylan Caldwell *||Red Recreational/Fast Track Auto Sales/Roadrunner||58||99 Laps|
|18||83||Braeden Havens||Western Rail Inc.||36||121 Laps|