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Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Lap Around the Track with NASCAR’s James Bickford: Sonoma Raceway

Date Track Location Starting Pos. Finish Series Standing
03/28/15 Kern County Raceway Park Bakersfield, CA 5 4 4
04/11/15 Irwindale Speedway Irwindale, CA 9 17 10
05/02/15 Tucson Speedway Tucson, AZ 5 6 6
05/16/15 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA 4 24 7
05/30/15 Shasta Speedway Anderson, CA 2 2 5
06/27/15 Sonoma Raceway Sonoma, CA 8 28 8
07/11/15 Stateline Speedway Post Falls, ID
07/30/15 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA
08/15/15 Evergreen Speedway Evergreen, WA
08/22/15 Colorado National Speedway Dacono, CO
09/05/15 Meridian Speedway Meridian, ID
10/17/15 All American Speedway Roseville, CA
11/12/15 Pheonix Int'l Raceway Pheonix, AZ

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! 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.

Watch the exclusive footage here »

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. Watch segments from the fun interview here! 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."

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