Cole Rouse began racing at the I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, Missouri just a few years ago. Success came early though, as he went to victory lane driving a Baby Grand Stock Car. From there on the now 17-year-old hotshoe was hooked and ready to move on to the next step.

Rouse was tapped to pilot the No. 20 for famed racing legend Rick Turner and his Rick Turner Racing team. As a rookie in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, he showed potential. Each race, as he gained experience, the results improved. By the end of the 2014 season the Arkansas teenager knew, driving race cars at the highest levels of motorsports was what he wanted to do.

2015 saw a move to another No. 20. This time for chassis builder and crew chief Kevin Crider out of Missouri. The speed showed up almost instantly. Rouse has been competitive in almost every event he has run. A string of bad luck has kept the No. 20 Rouse Custom Homes Late Model out of victory lane but the team remains confident that their time is coming.

Cole Rouse joined Sunrise Ford Racing in 2016 to compete full time on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) tour. Rouse, a Fort Smith, Ark. native, will drive the No. 6 Sunrise Ford Ford Fusion in his rookie season of NASCAR competition.

"Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is a dream come true,"Rouse, 18, said. "I'm looking forward to working with Bob (Bruncati, owner) and the Sunrise Ford Racing team this season. This year will be all about learning and improving as a driver. I believe this is a great place and a great opportunity to accomplish both of those things."

Sunrise Ford Racing is owned by Bob Bruncati and has competed on the NKNPSW tour full-time since 2007. In 2009, the team won the series championship with Jason Bowles and followed it with another championship in 2013 with driver Derek Thorn. Most recently, driver James Bickford earned two wins in the No. 6 entry, both at Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho.

"Cole will be a great addition to the team and we're all looking forward to having him behind the wheel of the No. 6 car this season," Bruncati said. "Cole is a responsible and ambitious young man who's going to work to get the most out of the No. 6 Sunrise Ford Ford and represent this team well."

Rouse began his racing career at the age of 14, competing in mini-cup cars before advancing to late model competition. He has spent the last three years racing late models on pavement in the Midwest. In last October's All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn., Rouse led 160 of 300 laps before finishing fifth due to a failing rear end and broken shock. The 2016 racing season will mark his first in NASCAR competition.

The NKNPSW season begins at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Saturday, March 19.