AVONDALE, Ariz. – The 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Sunoco Rookie of the Year checked off each of his goals last season and starts on a new list as the 2014 season opens on Thursday in the Arizona desert.
“I went into last season wanting to win rookie of the year, finish in the top five in points and win a race,” said Dylan Lupton.
The 20-year-old driver from Wilton, Calif., finished fifth in the final championship standings and collected his first victory in August at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., en route to outdistancing Giles Thornton for top-rookie honors on the circuit.
This year the goals are similar, but a little more difficult to achieve. Lupton has his sight set on winning multiple races and earning a series title beginning with the season-opening Talking Stick Resort 75 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
“I think we have a good opportunity to win some races and get into the championship hunt, he,” he said.
With a full season of experience Lupton feels much better prepared for what is to come.
“I feel 100 percent more prepared than last year,” he stated. “The crew has worked really hard over the winter and we have a brand new car for the bigger tracks. We’ve done some testing and the cars are really fast. I think we’ll have a top-three or top-five car right out of the box every time out this season.”
In addition to his racing schedule Lupton is a full-time student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte carrying a 3.5 grade point average, but his emphasis on school doesn’t end there. The business major has a planned program of school visits throughout the season with the message that young people can pursue their dreams while still preparing for and attending college.
“We did a pilot visit to a school last November before the Phoenix race and it was so well received that they invited us back this year,” Lupton said.
His No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford and hauler will visit Ingleside Middle School near Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday, the day after the PIR event.
“The schedule didn’t work out this time to do it before the race, but we hope to hand out some race tickets for the rest of the visits to get some people out for a great at-track experience,” he said.
In three previous Phoenix outings, Lupton’s best finish was a 14th-place showing in last year’s kick-off event, but he plans on changing that this time.
“Phoenix and I haven’t gotten along too well, so far,” he stated. “With the new car I think we’ll do much better and I can get some revenge on that place.”