James Bickford 2015 NASCAR Season Blog
Tuesday, November 10th
On the night of November 10th, James Bickford landed in Phoenix, ready to finish strong in the last race of the season.
Wednesday, November 11th
James spent the entire day at tech inspection, talking over strategy and looking over the car with the Bob Bruncati team. Everything looked good as James mentally prepared for the race.
Thursday, November 12th
James drove to the track in the Sunrise Ford Van which had made the long drive down. As practice started, James felt he was fast; his confidence rose. Then the first problem of the day: an ignition box failure.
"We were half power down the entire track" James noted, "We had to hustle to get it fixed."
In qualifying, James was in the middle of the pack to set a time. He placed a strong 3rd, but as the competition took to the track he was bumped down to 11th.
The race began at 5:30pm and the sun was still shining bright over the horizon. (Most of Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time.) Around lap 10 the drivers slowed for the first caution flag. On restart James fell quickly behind.
As additional caution flags came, each restart seemed to create more of a challenge.
"The car felt extremely loose; something wasn't right" he remarked, "it turned out that for 40 laps we were driving with a deflated right passenger side tire."
Coming out for the last 50 laps, James quickly worked his way up to 14th place. On the green flag lap he passed one car. Then, in James' signature comeback style, he was able to pass 5 cars on the white flag lap, finishing 8th for the race.
James was pleased with the finish. We asked him to reflect on this past season and to give us his thoughts moving forward.
"I like how we qualified throughout the season, I felt we were fast. Our average qualifying was around 3rd place, that's encouraging. We had about 300 laps led throughout the season which is a great accomplishment. We were unfortunately plagued with problems. We dealt with the problems as best we could, but unfortunately a few bad circumstances set us back."
James had technical difficulties in a few races throughout the season, but always bounced back, never picking up a DNF.
"There's up seasons and there's down seasons. I know next year will be an up season. I'm sad that I won't be with Bob Bruncati and the #6 car, but hopefully there will be a lot of attention around this program that we've built. I'm excited to start focusing on next year."
On Saturday, October 17th, Interstate Plastics sponsored James Bickford took to a local track, All American Speedway in Roseville, CA. Qualifying with an impressive 3rd place, the race hit an unfortunate bump in the road that left to a major repair stop.
Friday, October 16th:
James drove down to the track in the late afternoon. The late models were out to practice, and James watched, looking for any differences between this and last year. He concluded the line was about the same. He stayed in the comfort of his own home that night, remembering that the previous year he was stuck in an uncomfortable motel.
Saturday, October 17th:
Bickford headed to the All American Speedway from Napa, CA and set up for practice. He walked the course with his crew chief and again, looked for any variations in the track from the previous year.
Bickford stated he felt pressured on time as the first practice would only be 30 minutes. He felt they were struggling to get the car where it needed to be, and that reflected, taking 18th in the first practice.
A rain delay held up the second practice, with the Bickford crew rushing for a better setup. Major changes in adjustments were made between practices, and along with new tires, Bickford jumped to the top 5.
Qualifying started at 5:30pm. Bickford said he found the track difficult. "The tires we use for these short tracks are different than those we use for half mile tracks. These tires take a long time to wear in. The car is not reacting as it should be for the first few laps" he remarked, "we have just enough camber to match the banking of the track and adjusting it varies from track to track."
James qualified 3rd and called it "a great effort by the team." He had hoped for pole on a home track but was happy to be up front. After a drivers meeting and quick autograph session, he was ready to go.
8:30pm - The Race
Fireworks shot off as Bickford drove around the track. The car seemed fast and the tires were working much better. It seemed as if everything had finally come together. Until around 80 laps in, when the no. 84 car was going in for a wreck. James positioned himself to avoid the crash, but felt impact from another driver in the rear driver's quarter panel.
It was too late, the battery was gone. They brought the car in for repairs, and after being off the track for another 80 plus laps, Bickford took 23rd place, avoiding a DNF.
9th for points in the West, James stated "I'm determined. We're going to Phoenix and we want to finish the season out well."
On Saturday, September 5th, Interstate Plastics sponsored James Bickford and the rest of the NASCAR K&N West crew took on Meridian Speedway (Meridian, ID) for the first time in over forty years. After leading the race until lap 43, the Napa-native flew over debris from a previous collision, which caused a slow leak from the right-rear tire and resulted in an unforeseen 14th-place finish. Check out the details below:
Friday, September 4th
James and his dad Tom drove from Napa, California to Meridian, Idaho for the NASCAR K&N West NAPA Idaho 208 event. The event was K&N West Series' first visit to the quarter-mile oval since June 30, 1972.
Bickford recalled falling behind the rest of the pack during Friday's test session. "Brandon McReynolds, Ryan Partridge and David Mayhew were all in a league of their own ... Probably two to three times faster than me." When Crew Chief Bill Sedgewick couldn't resolve the car's maintenance issues, Bickford's Sunrise Ford teammate no. 9 Ryan Partridge, 27, tested his car out and concluded that it was over-rotating. The team packed up and agreed to fix mechanical errors the following day.
Saturday, September 5th
9:00AM: The NASCAR K&N West garage opened at Meridian Speedway.
12:00PM - 12:45PM: After fixing mechanical errors from Friday's test session, James finished P9 in first practice. "Bill and I were so frustrated. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. We started out super loose on the corners, and then got really tight. We couldn't find a good balance."
1:15PM - 2:00PM: James finished P9 after second practice.
4:00PM - 4:15PM: James and his Crew Chief/Spotter Bill Sedgewick attended a meeting.
5:00PM - 5:30: Interstate Plastics sponsored James Bickford qualified P2 in the night's NAPA Idaho 208 event with a best lap of 13.113 seconds.
Regarding the position surge from final practice to qualifying, James said, "We just put up our base setup, made a few adjustments to the car and started fast tracking ... It was crazy."
5:45PM - 6:25PM: James participated in a mandatory NASCAR autograph session.
8:00PM - 8:30PM: Driver introductions.
8:30PM: James started second on the grid in the NASCAR K&N West NAPA Idaho 208. He led the race for the first forty laps of the event.
The quarter-mile track traditionally serves as a hot bed for collisions. James explained:
"There were so many crashes. There was debris everywhere at all times on the track ... With narrow tracks like Meridian, it causes a lot of debris to be funneled up in only a few spots, and when that happens ... it’s impossible to dodge and you’re sitting there just hoping a piece of debris doesn’t hit the wrong part of your tire."James was not immune to hitting that debris. No. 27 Gracin Raz bumped James' no. 6 car and knocked him into the wall, and James drove over remains from another collision, which caused a flat right-rear tire. Subsequently, he slowed down. Team Bickford was forced to enter the pit area under a green flag just to change the tire. As a result, he went down five laps, until he finished the race in 14th place.
Regarding his 14th-place finish, James said, "I was really disappointed, but I understand that flat tires happen ... Other than that I think it was a really good race ... . I was aggressive the whole time, which Bill [Sedgewick] was happy with."
The NASCAR K&N West NAPA Idaho 208 will be aired on Thursday, September 10th at 7:30ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
On Saturday, August 22, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returned to Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, CO for the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150. After starting fifth on the grid, James suffered a small collision and rounded out the race with a tenth place finish. Take a small look into Team Bickford's race weekend.
Friday, August 21, 2015
James flew into the Denver International Airport early Friday morning. He waited for his crew to arrive and (to no surprise) spent the early afternoon watching NASCAR events on TV.
Once James and the Sunrise Ford crew reached Dacono, they made a short stop at a local Mexican restaurant. He remained with Sunrise Ford teammate no. 9 Ryan Partridge for the rest of the evening.
He and Partridge, 27, have a friendly rivalry on the track but remain close friends. James described Partridge as someone he likes to spend time with and who is a good role model. The pair roomed together during the weekend’s stay in Dacono.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
9:00AM: The NASCAR K&N West garage opened at Colorado National Speedway.
12:00PM - 12:45PM: Regarding first practice of the day, James said: “We actually weren’t too good ... We were loose entering the corners and had trouble fixing it.” With the issues at hand, James sat P10 after first practice with a best lap of 17.529 seconds.
1:45PM - 2:30PM: After altering the setup of the car, Team Bickford gave the car new tires and he advanced to P8 in final practice with a best lap of 17.031 seconds. “Second practice wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t what I was expected...I thought we could get a little more out of the car,” he said.
5:30PM - 6:15PM: James qualified P5 for the night's race with a best lap of 16.795 seconds.
7:15PM: James participated in a mandatory NASCAR autograph signing with the rest of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
8:15PM: Driver introductions took place.
8:30PM - 9:30PM: James started fifth on the grid for the NASCAR K&N West NAPA Auto Parts 150 and tottered between fourth and fifth place for almost the entire first half of the event. “Then on lap ... 60, the #55 car [Blake Williams] got in the corner too deep and hit me really hard, at my left-rear quarter panel and spun me out.” Due to James’ spin-out, he was forced to the back of the field, and restarted P16 (of 16 cars).
“I don’t know what happened to our car. We just fell off the face of the map ever since our car spun out. [The collision] might’ve damaged..or broke something, and that affected us. I don’t know what happened ... We couldn’t even pass the slowest of cars and we got lapped and it was a disaster from there on out.”
James ended the race with a 10th-place finish. “Even with a top-ten finish, that pretty much kicked us out of the championship hunt.” From this place forward, Team Bickford plans to focus on wins.
“It’s a real big bummer. We were on the cusp of having a championship run and ... it just takes two bad races in a row to completely wreck those chances. So we’re gonna go to Meridian [Speedway] ... and hopefully have a lot better finish because we have three really good races coming up.”
James has three final races to finish the 2015 K&N West season. His next race will take place at Meridian Speedway (Meridian, ID) on Saturday, September 5, followed by events at All American Speedway (Roseville, CA) and Phoenix International Raceway.
Interstate Plastics sponsored NASCAR Next and K&N West driver, no. 6 James Bickford, returned to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington on August 15th for the ninth race of the K&N Pro Series West season. After rounding out the pole in qualifying, Bickford finished the night in eighth place.
Friday, August 14th
James sat and waited, sleep deprived and hungry in the Seattle International Airport; two hours away from Monroe Washington, and an indefinite number of hours away from leaving the airport. It was 7:30am and he was tired. By 11:30am he had napped on the airport floor and tweeted: “Can anyone pick me up from the Seattle Airport?” There was a miscommunication regarding his flight arrival time and he was stranded.
By 1:00pm, his crew member Buddy picked him up. The pair drove two hours to Monroe, got lunch, and then James went to sleep for the rest of the night.
Saturday, August 15th
8:30AM: The NASCAR K&N West garage opened and inspection began.
11:00AM - 11:45AM: James was P7 after first practice with a best lap of 23.999 seconds.
1:30PM - 2:00PM: After the final practice of the day, James sat P7 with a best lap of 23.85 seconds.
About his two practice runs, James admitted that he was “not where he wanted to be” in practice standings, but confident for qualifying. He thought they had a “balanced” car.
2:30PM: Qualifying inspection opened.
3:30PM - 4:00PM: James and his crew chief Bill Sedgewick attended a mandatory meeting.
4:15PM - 5:00PM: James qualified on the pole for the NASCAR K&N West NAPA Auto Parts 150 - his second pole win for the 2015 season.
“The qualifying lap was obviously really good. It was interesting because ... you’re supposed to be faster on your second lap, but ... I got the quick time on my first lap. Bill [Sedgewick] told me, ‘Don’t even run your second lap. So I just coasted around the track on my second lap, I didn’t even need it,” he said.
5:00PM - 5:30PM: James met fans at a NASCAR sponsored autograph session.
5:40PM - 6:00PM: Driver introductions were held.
6:00PM - 8:00PM: James took home eighth place in the 93.75-mile NAPA Auto Parts 150 event.
“I got in the car and was starting on the front row. I led the first 35 laps and thought I had a really, really strong car ... possibly, that I could win. And then I got passed by David [Mayhew] and he left me in the dust. I thought, ‘Okay, I’m in second now. I’ll be okay.’ ... then third place caught up to me, and then he passed me. And then fourth place. And then the group of the field got to me and then I was just getting hit all over the place and then I got shuffled all the way back to 10th place.”What happened since the pole win? James attributed his fall out to the fact that the track was hot and abrasive. “I think my car got wore out,” he said. “I was pushing really hard at the beginning to try and keep the lead and I think that was a disadvantage to me.”
There was only one caution flag waved throughout the entire race. By the halfway break, James was sitting P10. After the restart he rocketed up to P6, and then slowly back to P7, and crossed the finish at P8. “After your tires get hot, it’s really hard to pass ... we didn’t have a tire that could handle those long runs...but we’re gonna go to Colorado and I look forward to winning for the Interstate Plastics/ Sunrise Ford Racing team.” He finished up by saying:
“My Sunrise Ford/ Interstate Plastics team has come a long way from the start of the year...We’re finally getting down qualifying and starting to have some really good qualifying spots. And it’s just a matter of time until those top-track position qualifying spots start to pay off and we start winning some races off of the pole like we did at Stateline [Speedway].”Sunday, August 16th Straight after the race James and his dad Tom drove to Seaside, Oregon and went fishing on the Columbia River for two days. James caught a twelve-pound fish during the trip.
On Friday, July 30th, Interstate Plastics sponsored James Bickford returned to Newton, Iowa for Iowa Speedway’s Thanks Kenny 150. Bickford took home sixth place in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series combination race, scoring third among the K&N West contenders. Fellow K&N West driver Brandon McReynolds took home the trophy for the 131.25 mile event and Interstate Plastics got footage from the day’s events.
Thursday, July 30th
James arrived to the track around noon to unload the trailer and put his no. 6 car through tech inspection.
That evening, he stayed at the Microtel Inn and Suites in Newton. He and his team went to Prairie Meadows: Casino, Race Track and Hotel, where they ate dinner and spent some time relaxing. Too young to spend time in the casino, James “sat outside by myself and watched the horse races.”
Friday, July 31st
9:00AM: The NASCAR K&N Pro Series garage opened.
10:30AM - 11:00AM: James participated in a NASCAR Next sponsored Q&A with the Midwestern Boys and Girls Club.
11:00AM - 12:30PM: James finished first practice P12 with a best lap of 24.751 seconds. About first practice, he said, “The car felt really good. When we first went out, the car was scraping a little bit ... it was either because the track was getting hot or the tires were going away.” He added, “We were fighting...First it’d be really loose, and then it’d be really tight ... It took like two or three times of me going out [on the track] for the scraping to stop.”
To fix it, James and his crew did a “right-front wedge adjustment ... and maybe a few spacers in the front.” The team made minor adjustment after minor adjustment until the car stopped scraping.
1:30PM - 2:30PM: James finished final practice P8 with a best lap of 24.521 seconds.
3:15PM - 4:15PM: James attended a mandatory autograph session, hosted by NASCAR.
5:00PM - 5:45PM: James qualified P2 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series combination race.
“Heading into qualifying I knew we had a really good shot. I knew that if I just drove the wheels off the car, we’d be set. For the first ten guys, there was a huge cloud cover that cooled down the track. So I knew it was going to be a challenge because Brandon [McReynolds] was going out first, and he got to cool the track down, which makes the car a little bit faster. And he qualified on the pole, and ... held it up until me. I knew I had to beat him to get the pole ... I went out there and drove as hard as I could into the corner. It was almost ridiculous how far I did.”
James missed the pole to fellow K&N West driver Brandon McReynolds by a mere 0.012 seconds: “one or two feet, maybe.” Bickford and McReynolds capped the starting line, making it the first time in Iowa Speedway history for two K&N Pro Series West drivers to do so.
Unlike his first time at Iowa Speedway in the 2015 season, James had a disappointed reaction to his second place qualifier. “It was more like, ‘Aw, man, I qualified second,’” he explained.
6:30PM - 6:45PM: James and his crew chief Bill Sedgewick attended a meeting.
7:30PM - 7:50PM: Driver introductions took place. Watch it here.
8:00PM - 10:00PM: James started P2 in the 131.25-mile Thanks Kenny 150 event. He quickly moved to P3 after getting passed by no. 98 K&N East driver Rico Abreu. After the first caution and restart, James moved to P4. During the second restart following another caution, James remembers spinning his tires and going to short shift as usual. (Short shifting means making a pre-mature shift change after the tires spin, causing the tires to stop spinning for a quick start.) But during the short shift, the motor bogged down, and James was passed by three cars
After the restart following the halfway break, James climbed from seventh to eighth place before another caution flag was waved.
“I was actually happy to sit eighth ... I had a really great restart and went crazy with something like fifteen laps to go, and passed all the way up to fourth place ... I passed four cars in about one lap.”
From fourth, James was soon passed by no. 7 Noah Gragson and no. 5 J.J. Haley. He finally crossed the finish line at sixth place. About his finish, James said, “It wasn’t a bad run for the Sunrise Ford/ Interstate Plastics car. It was a good run for us, but I really wish I hadn’t messed up that restart. We probably could’ve finished top-3.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series Thanks Kenny 150 will be televised by NBCSN on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 4:00PM. PST. Team James Bickford will race next on Saturday, August 15th at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
Interstate Plastics sponsored no. 6 James Bickford set out to take on the previously championed Stateline Speedway on Saturday, July 11th in Post Falls, Idaho. Team James Bickford had a major comeback and first season win following an unfortunate loss at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, June 30th.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returned to the quarter-mile track for the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 150, where Bickford clinched the championship for the second consecutive year after leading 151 laps of the 158-lap-race. The Napa native received his first K&N West career title at Stateline Speedway in 2014.
Interstate Plastics has tons of EXCLUSIVE footage of the day's events, including the night's win! Check it out here, and read below for more details.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
8:00am: James and Tom arrived to the track early on Saturday morning after staying at the home of James' God Father, Bill Haase. They were welcomed to the track by on onslaught of rain, so James stayed dry in his trailer for a majority of the morning.
10:00am - 10:30am: The no. 6 Team Bickford car went through tech inspection.
James described the long, wet morning as "slow." After the car went through tech inspection, James was fitted into his new driver lounge located in teammate Ryan Partridge's no. 9 Sunrise Ford hauler. James' former driver's lounge (located in the no. 6 Sunrise Ford hauler) is being revamped into car owner Bob Bruncati's full-time office.
1:00pm - 1:45pm: After first practice of the day leading up to the NAPA 150, James sat P8 with a best lap of 13.964 seconds.
He said, " ... We were pretty slow just like always in first practice. We were P8 on the board out of 18. That's usual for us because we don't have the new tires like the rookies do for first practice. So we're always going to be a little bit slower."
2:45pm - 3:30pm: He then finished on-top in P1 after second practice with a best lap of 13.848. James attributed the success of second practice to "switching things up and putting down the tire pressure."
5:30pm - 5:45pm: James attended a meeting with his Crew Chief Bill Sedgewick, and prepared for pre-qualifying inspection.
6:00pm - 6:45pm: After drawing 14th to qualify, James took the Pole to race in the NASCAR K&N West NAPA 150. His Sunrise Ford Racing teammate, no. 9 Ryan Partridge, qualified P2. It was a great start to the night for the Sunrise Ford/ Interstate Plastics Team!
About the Pole, James said:
"I knew we had a really fast car and I sacrificed the first timed lap... to get the second lap in qualifying. Because the tires don't come in until lap six, so you have to do some special stuff to try and get the tires to come in, so I actually ... purposely made the car slide through the corners to try and get the tires to come in, and it ended up working ... We ran a tenth faster than the rest of the field ... We cleared the field and that was great. That's the first Pole we've ever had. I was so happy, I was screaming."8:30pm - 9:00pm: James attended driver introductions.
9:00pm - 10:00pm: The NASCAR K&N West NAPA 150 began. James described, "When you're on the Pole you're able to control the race. So not only were we able to control it, but I ran the slowest pace I could up in front. So if anyone tried to pass me, I'd speed up and then they'd stay behind. We had a dominant car ... Anything I wanted to do, I could."
During the night's race, James took home the win. His description was very confident: "Unless someone took me out I don't think there's any way I could've lost that race."
Team Bickford's win at Stateline Speedway was crucial for his 2015 season career on the track for the K&N West championship. James added:
"I knew that if we didn't win, we'd be out of the championship hunt. That would've been it ... I walked into the day like, 'We have to win and we have to do everything we can to win. And if we don't, it'll be over.' This race was different than last year because I knew I had to win. So when I won, it was kind of like 'Heck yeah! Let's move onto the next one.'"Watch the video of Team Bickford in Victory Lane.
Bickford now sits in sixth place in Series standings, with only 13 points separating the first five positions.
10:00pm: After a great win, James was excited to sign autographs for tons of fans!
Team Bickford now has all sights set on Iowa Speedway, for a NASCAR K&N East and West combination race occurring on July 31st.
On June 27th, Interstate Plastics sponsored no. 6 Team Bickford took on Sonoma Raceway and closed off the night with an unprecedented 28th-place finish. The day was filled with adrenaline, tons of press events and an unforeseen car malfunction - and Interstate Plastics caught it all on camera! Watch the exclusive footage here. Let's take a look into the day leading up to the Carneros 200 and the potential factors that led Team Bickford to their unfortunate loss.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
6:30am: James and Tom arrived at Sonoma Raceway to kick off the biggest race weekend Sonoma's seen in nearly a decade. Saturday's NASCAR K&N Carneros 200 preceded Sunday's Sprint Cup ToyotaSave Mart 350. While only functioning on five hours of sleep, James "wasn't tired." He later described the inability to tire at the track: "You're running straight on adrenaline and excitement ... But I definitely have to stay calm on race day; you don't want to express your emotions too much or people will think you're hyper."
Note: Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon (also James' paternal cousin) will retire following the current Spring Cup season and raced the 1.99-mile track for the last time on Sunday with a 16th-place finish.
7:30am - 8:30am: James ate breakfast and relaxed while doing a Q&A session with Interstate Plastics' Francesca. During the interview, James named his dad as his biggest role model off-the-track. He described Tom as "thoughtful," and added, "He's really helped me to get to the point I'm at now." He added "It's 6:30 [a.m.] now, so he probably went out at 5:45 to get us Starbucks and a black belt."
9:45am - 10:30am: James qualified P8 prior to the NASCAR K&N Carneros 200. About his qualifying laps, James said, "Qualifying went really well. I messed up the first lap when drove the car too far into Turn 11, but the second lap was really fast. We got 8th. It wasn't what we were hoping for but it was a great starting spot for race."
11:00am - 11:15am: James attended a mandatory driver meeting with his Crew Chief Bill Sedgewick.
11:20am - 11:35am: NASCAR hosted a K&N Pro Series West meet-and-greet for fans. "Meet-and-greets are really fun for me. I got to meet a lot of really nice people and it was awesome to be a part of that."
11:35am - 12:15pm: Reflecting on the disappointment of his qualifying laps, James prepared for the upcoming race. He completed his pre-race energy ritual, prepared his water bottle, ate lunch and got dressed into his driver suit.
12:15pm - 12:30pm: James held a private autograph session at the Interstate Plastics hospitality tent. Interstate Plastics customers love James Bickford!
12:35pm - 12:50pm: Fox Sports and Performance Racing Network held an interview with James and fellow NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Nicole Behar as well as William Byron and Dalton Sargeant from the K&N Series East. These members from the NASCAR Next class were plugged into NASCAR's Drive for Safety partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The group was interviewed on the importance of tire safety throughout the sport of racing.
1:00pm - 1:15pm: James attended a Q&A session at a private Club 7, Turn 7 hospitality event alongside NASCAR Next drivers Behar, Byron and Sargeant. One thing we learned from this event? James' favorite Superhero is Batman! James finished off the event by signing autographs for fans before heading to driver introductions.
1:30pm: James attended driver introductions. Watch a clip of the NASCAR K&N West Carneros 200 top 10 driver intros! Also featured James' sister, Raquel and her boyfriend, Harry.
James told Interstate Plastics that he doesn't think about the race until moments before the green flag is waved. He advised, "Don't focus too much on the race until you're in the car, otherwise you're going to overthink it. Five minutes before the race I say to myself: ‘This is how I'm going to see my race.' You go into the warm up lap and think about how you're going to do the first turn, and then Turn 10. And that's how you succeed."
2:00pm: James started P8 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Carneros 200. He quickly moved slightly behind, alternating between P10 and P11. He remained between those two spots until lap 48 of 62, when he was rear ended by another driver. The other race car lifted up Bickford's no. 6 car from behind, which resulted in a broken left-rear axle. Within the last fourteen laps of the race, James fell from P10 to P28. After a 28th-place finish, he is now ranked #8 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Regarding his finish, James said "The finish was nothing what we were expecting. If we could have avoided the broken axle, I bet we would've finished in the top-five alongside my teammate who ended up finishing fourth. So, we definitely had some bad luck. But we're not going to dwell on it. We're going to take that loss and put all of our energy into Stateline [Speedway], and hopefully be able to get a few wins before the end of the season."
6/26/15 - NASCAR's James Bickford Attends Pre-Race Media Events Leading Up to Sonoma Raceway's Carneros 200
Interstate Plastics sponsored no. 6 James Bickford recently completed a marathon week of media appearances and practices leading up to the June 27th NASCAR K&N West Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway, which shared an event weekend with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Save Mart 350. The combined events brought nearly 500,000 fans to Sonoma Raceway over the course of the weekend. The 17-year-old Napa native mentioned that he "loves media appearances", which comes as no surprise given his natural poise and eloquence in front of the camera. Take a look below to see where James appeared prior to the June 27th Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway.
Tuesday, June 25, 2015 - Media Hot Lap Day by Sonoma Raceway
12:30pm - 1:30pm: James attended a Media Hot Lap event presented by Sonoma Raceway. During the Hot Lap, James gave ride-alongs to several members of the Northern California media community while driving a Toyota Camry along Sonoma Raceway's 1.99 mile road course. Media members from the community included Tom Fitzgerald from the San Francisco Chronicle and Bryan May from News 10 Sacramento. About the Hot Lap, James said, "This event in particular was really enjoyable. It was great to meet a lot of new people and get to see so many faces."
Thursday, June 27, 2015 - Toyota Save Mart 350 Luncheon by NASCAR
12:00pm - 2:00pm: James was invited to attend the Toyota Save Mart 350 luncheon, presented by NASCAR and located at McCormick and Kuleto's in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square. He attended as one of three men-of-honor alongside NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers David Ragan and Kyle Larson. The media luncheon featured nearly 30 high-profile media members from across the United States, including Jeff Gluck from USA Today and Bob Pockrass from ESPN.com.
During the event, James was asked one of the most political questions of his career to date:What do you think of NASCAR taking down confederate flags at their races? James replied with no comment. One of James' favorite aspects from the event was the opportunity to spend time with Fox Sports Broadcasting veteran Mike Joy.
Friday, June 26, 2015 - Track Testing and Practice
6:30am: James and Tom arrived to their home track of Sonoma Raceway for a long day of track testing and practices. The Bickford family resides in Napa, California-approximately twenty minutes from Sonoma Raceway.
10:30am - 11:50am: James was P11 after the first practice of the day with a best time of 1:20.3.
2:00pm - 3:00pm: In the final practice of the day, James climbed to P8 with a best lap of 1:19.1. James mentioned that he and his team only used about fifteen minutes of the hour-long practice slot. He said, "We wanted to get a feel for what tires were going to be like. Second practice was great. We were sitting 8th at that point but I still felt really good about it."
4:00pm - 4:45pm: James attended a mandatory NASCAR autograph session, where he signed autographs and interactedwith fans.
7:00pm: James and his dad attended a barbeque at the home of Darrell and Sondra Dudley for a racing reunionfeaturing many long-time racers from Vallejo Speedway. James left the event early to spend the evening with his girlfriend of one month, Lindsay. He came home much later than Dad, Tom, would've liked, which led to a very early morning in the Bickford house!
Interstate Plastics sponsored no. 6 James Bickford made a serious comeback in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this weekend thanks to a second place finish in Saturday’s race at Shasta Speedway. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Team Bickford and caught tons of exclusive footage of their whereabouts leading up to the Bill Schmitt Memorial 150. Take a look at a weekend-in-the-life of NASCAR’s James Bickford and catch his second place win and interview from inside the Winner’s Circle.
Friday, May 29, 2015
1:00pm - 2:00pm: James drove to Anderson, California with his dad, Tom, and mom, Teresa. He participated in Shasta Speedway’s Parade of Champions, where he waved to fans from inside of his Sunrise Ford hauler. The parade lasted just under an hour. About the parade, James said: “This was an absolutely awesome event that Shasta Speedway put on for the fans and it was a great way for drivers and fans to interact.”
2:00pm - 4:00pm: James and I sat in his hauler while he signed tons of gear for Interstate Plastics. He sang along to music from G-Eazy and J. Cole, two of his favorite rappers. James told me: “I’ve tried so many times to give G-Eazy a shout out on T.V., but he’s never responded to me.” Then he gave a big smile and said: “Tomorrow I’ll try again when they interview me from inside the Winner’s Circle.”
4:00pm - 9:00pm: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Track Testing happened for the rest of the day. James ran about five sets of practice laps, coming back into the pit between each one to make adjustments to the set-up of his car. By the end of track testing, James was tied with about five other drivers for the day’s top-spot.
9:30pm:James, Tom, Teresa, Lindsay (James’ girlfriend) and I went out to dinner at Cicada Cantina in Redding. James ordered three meals for himself. When his food arrived, James laughed. His dad’s response: “Just so you know, James is an extremely cheap date.”
Saturday, May 30, 2015
7:30am: James woke up at Baymont Inn and Suites (Anderson, California), and drove with his dad to Shasta Speedway.
11:00am - 11:45am: James was P10 after the first practice of the day with a best time of 16.343 on lap 29.James said, “First practice was a great way for us to feel out the car at the beginning of the day. It gave us the info we needed to tell us we had a really great car.”
12:45pm - 1:15pm: James was P5 with a best time of 16.108 after final practice.
1:30pm: Tom Bickford led a group of Interstate Plastics customers on a great pit tour. The customers got to meet James, ask him a few questions and take pictures. They also got the rare chance to meet and interview legendary car owner Bob Bruncati.
1:45pm: James’ no. 6 Ford Fusion went through qualifying inspection following the final practice set of the day.
3:15pm: James and his Crew Chief Bill Sedgwick attended a Driver/Crew Chief Meeting. At this time James drew 19th for qualifying. An awesome draw for Team Bickford!
4:15pm - 5:00pm: James qualified P2 in the night’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Bill Schmitt Memorial 150. He ran a 15.90 on the first lap and a 16.01 on the second. As he left the track, Bickford said over the radio: "Nice job, guys. It felt really good. Wish we could've gotten that last one, but we have a really, really great car. Let's do this!"
6:00pm - 6:30pm: James attended a mandatory NASCAR autograph session. All of the K&N West drivers lined up on the track with their cars and signed tons of stuff for the sold-out crowd at Shasta Speedway.
6:30pm - 7:00pm: The VIP Interstate Plastics tent was lucky to have James make a guest appearance for an exclusive autograph-signing session. James signed a few driver cards, took some photographs and shook a lot of hands. The customers loved it!For James, the feeling was mutual: “It was so nice to meet all the people from our sponsor who support me and my team.”
7:45pm:James attended driver introductions.
8:00pm: Bickford started the Interstate Plastics/Sunrise Ford stock car second on the grid for the Lithia Toyota and NAPA Auto Parts Bill Schmitt Memorial 150. He stayed consistent at P2 until lap 92, where he then took the lead when no. 17 David Mayhew pulled off the track with mechanical issues. James cruised in the lead until Chris Eggleston, 26, tracked him downwith five laps remaining. Eggleston took the checkered flag only .705 seconds ahead of Bickfordat the end of the .375 mile track.
Regarding his second place finish, James said: “I was really disappointed with second. We really wanted that win, especially for all the Interstate [Plastics] people who came out to support us. But, it’s great to be disappointed about getting second; it means that our team is really progressing. I’m really excited about Sonoma [Raceway]. I think we’re going to do exceptionally well.” Team Bickford is currently ranked fifth in the 2015 K&N Pro Series West point standings.
Bickford’s next race is scheduled for June 27th at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. This race is poised to be one of the biggest of the season, with a special appearance by four-time Sprint Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 champion Jeff Gordon, Bickford’s paternal cousin. There you have it, Bickford fans! Get ready for a great weekend at Sonoma Raceway, June 27th and 28th.
Interstate Plastics sponsored NASCAR driver James Bickford has seen a bit of bad luck on the racetrack this season. Number 6 Bickford ended an otherwise exceptional race day at Iowa Speedway with a 24th place finish following a minor crash in the Casey's General Store 150 race on May 16th, 2015. Bickford sat down with Interstate Plastics to recap the gritty details of the unfortunate crash and his weekend in Iowa.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Bickford flew out to Cedar Rapids, IA for a NASCAR Next appearance.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
5:30am: Bickford woke up to participate in a radio interview with WMT Newsradio, Cedar Rapids News Talk Sports.
1:00pm: Bickford drove to Des Moines, IA for a K&N Pro Series West appearance at Advanced Auto Parts. It rained the entire time, and Bickford recalled there was a smaller audience than usual. "It was still great to be able to do that for K&N," he said.
Friday, May 15, 2015
10:30am: Bickford spent the afternoon at the Newton Speedway racetrack, going through routine matters such as tech inspection and practice laps.
8:00pm: Bickford headed back to his hotel, Microtel Inn and Suites (Newton, IA), and watched an"amazing" truck race between Erik Jones and Kasey Kahne.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
8:00am: "I woke up Saturday morning and went to the track. I had a nice breakfast sandwich made by Wolf and Steve, our two truck drivers. It was bacon and hash browns and scrambled eggs on rye toast ... I ate that and did my normal program: strawberry banana GUU, along with my shot blocs, an all-day vitamin, and washed it down with some Gatorade G2."
10:00am - 10:55am: Bickford ran a 28.4 second practice lap, which ranked him 11th by the early morning. "I hopped in my car and it was really fast right out of the gate, and it took me a little bit to get used to the track, which was significantly different from Tucson [Speedway]. But as soon as I got in a rhythm our car was always fast."
12:30pm - 1:30pm: Bickford wished that he could've placed higher in the final practice run, but had a faulty mock run. "I knew we had a really fast car, but didn't know quite how fast. It was a guess as to where we'd end up in qualifying."
3:00pm - 4:00pm: Bickford participated in a very rainy NASCAR autograph session. "It rained the whole time. I had one of my driver cards and held it over my head to stop the rain ... My dad ended up bringing me an umbrella and I called him my 'umbrella girl.' But he came about thirty minutes after the rain had started, so I still got a pretty significant amount of rain on me."
4:15pm - 5:30pm: Bickford attended a Drivers and Crew Chiefs Meeting.
6:00pm - 7:15pm: Regarding his qualifying lap, Bickford explained: "I strapped in, took off, and the car felt really great ... really fast. It was an amazing feeling ... I almost thought I had the pole, but I ended up qualifying third."
He added, "My dad recorded my lap on Periscope [a livestream social media app] and my car owner Bob Bruncati was jumping and cheering ... hugging people on top of the hauler ... It was a really emotional video." He continued, "It was amazing to watch. That was like a win for us. Last year we were not in competition at all ... and to go out qualifying third; it was an amazing feeling and I'm really looking forward to going back." Bickford ended up with a final qualifying placement of fourth. Brian McReynolds qualified directly after Bickford and set the pole for the night's race.
8:00pm - 9:00pm: The Casey's General Store 150 began. "I started fourth and was really excited about my car because it was so fast. Then we moved back two positions, kind of hanging out, for a good 25 to 30 laps that we were in competition."
"Around lap 40, the caution flag came out. And, you know, a normal caution for us, we just went around the track maybe three or four times to get everything cleaned up." Number 12 driver Gray Gaulding had a blown right, front tire, which caused the caution flag to wave.
Bickford added, "We were restarting seventh, took the green, and then the car just lost all steering going into the corners. We went from 7th to 37th in about two laps, so there was obviously a significant problem and I knew that. And about the third lap I was running with this problem, my car started scraping, so I knew for a fact that it was a right, front going down ... And finally ... the right, front tire blew and I ended up hitting the outside wall on turn four."
"[W]e came into the pit area and we changed the right, front as quick as possible, and we were trying to beat out the damage, but we really didn't need to. We ended up going two laps down. We were really fighting that for the rest of the day and kept riding out the laps."
"After we came in for the halfway break and we got to change all four tires, the car felt a lot better. We were actually running times as fast as the top-10 drivers were ... we had a really fast car." Bickford ended up finishing 24th among all NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East drivers
At the end of our interview Bickford reflected on his 24th place finish. "I felt like we could've done so much better; we could've competed for a win. It was just such a bummer deal because we had such a fast car. We'll go back next time and try to get a win there." And with that, Bickford is gearing up for his May 30th race at Shasta Speedway in Anderson, CA!
Interstate Plastics sponsored James Bickford ended his third K&N Pro Series race with a sixth place finish at Tucson Speedway on May 2nd. On the rebound from his April 16th weekend at Irwindale Speedway, Team Bickford made a tremendous comeback at Tucson and climbed to the number six spot in overall series points.
Friday, May 1
5:00pm: James landed in Tucson on Friday afternoon and drove to the track. “[Our car was] pretty fast in the beginning but then got really, really ... loose. It had no drive-off, which meant that the tires were spinning but there was no traction on the track.” James and his crew attempted to change the setup of the car to adapt to the track but failed to assess the underlying issue. He added, “We ended up finding out that the track was extremely abrasive and decided to change tires toward the end of the night and it made the car a lot better.”
Saturday, May 2: Race Day
8:00am: James woke up and drove from the Baymont Inn (in Tucson) to the track, ate breakfast and prepared for practice.
10:00am - 10:55am: After going though two sets of tires the previous evening, James was forced to essentially forfeit the first practice of the day. “We did everything we could to adhere to the setup of the track the night before, so we didn’t have any tires for the first practice ... we had to sacrifice the first practice, basically, because there was no point driving on 100-lap-old tires.” He was able to run a few practice laps, but nothing more.
12:30pm - 1:30pm: For the second practice of the day, James and his team changed the tires to sticker tires and “ ... we were the third fastest on the track.”
4:15pm: James attended a mandatory NASCAR driver meeting. Following the meeting, he prepared for his qualifying race.
6:00pm - 6:45pm: “Qualifying was one of the most interesting sessions I’ve ever done. Tucson is a really abrasive track, which means that the track is so used.” He clarified: “Have you ever been on the highway in the truck lane? And it’s really bumpy? That’s how the track is ... They haven’t paved the track at Tucson in a really long time and it’s like sandpaper ... which is very, very, very bad on tires.”
The abrasiveness of the track caused the cars to drive relatively slowly, and caused them to be what James refers to as ‘loose.’ James added: “It’s abrasive, it’s a three-groove track and it’s a short track [.375 miles]. So it had some really interesting components to it.” (A groove is a preferred line on the track, and drivers can run the bottom, middle or top lines.)
He added: “We started out running the bottom line. We thought it would be less abrasive because you’re taking a shorter distance around the track. Well ... my crew chief was telling me on the radio that the faster line was on the top side ... and our crew was set up for the bottom side ... So before qualifying [My crew chief and I] were discussing, like: ‘What should we do? Maybe we should roll-the-dice and try the top side? Or, maybe we should we stick with the game plan and go with the bottom side?’”
“And right before I drove out, I made a decision and told my crew chief, ‘I’m gonna try the top side.’ I went out and did my best and we qualified fifth. If we would’ve gone out on the bottom side, we probably would’ve qualified outside the top 15. We took a big risk and it paid off.”