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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Calvin Carroll clinched his first NASCAR Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in 2017.
Driving a full-time schedule on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Carroll defeated Walter Sutcliffe Jr. and Ronnie Williams in the standings en route to the crown. He won the title by 34 points and was the top rookie contender in five races.
"This was our goal from the beginning of the year, this is what we set out to do," the Andover, New Jersey native said of winning the crown. "We were able to accomplish it and we are very proud of ourselves for doing it. I think we will set a higher goal now for next year and try to accomplish that."
Carroll started all 16 events on the unified series schedule and came home with a best finish of 13th. In just his first full-time season, Carroll got off to a rough start by not finishing two of the first three races. However, a strong summer stretch helped him to pull away in the Rookie of the Year standings.
"I think it was an amazing year," Carroll said. "I think everyone had their own troubles at different tracks and we had our fair share. All and all I just think it was a great year."
When Carroll visited a track for the second or third time this year, he often improved on his finish. He finished 25th in the Sizzler at Stafford, but in the other two events at the half-mile, Carroll rolled to finishes of 20th and 15th. At Thompson, Carroll found himself finishing 18th at the Icebreaker and he wrapped up the season by finishing 15th in the Sunoco World Series 150, his second-best run of the year.
"We definitely ran better at the end of the year, each time we went to a track we tried to get better and we did that," Carroll said. "It gave me a lot of confidence."
The highest point of the season actually came in a non-points event at Charlotte Motor Speedway's bullring. Carroll finished third, posting his best career modified run.
"It showed a lot about our team, I was extremely happy with that," Carroll said. "It gave us a lot of confidence to go to Thompson and we ended up doing well there."
Looking ahead, Carroll will be planning on returning to full-time competition for the 2018 season. He hopes to continue to learn and improve his finish each time he visits a track.
"The competition on the Tour is way higher than any other modified series. There are probably 10 cars that could win each week at any given track, so I'm happy with what we were able to do this year," Carroll said.
Without the support from his sponsors and team, he wouldn't be able to roll on the track.
"I have to thank Power With Prestige, Cruising With Bettty, and definitely my whole team. All five of my brothers were at just about every one of the races and they helped me get to the track along with my parents. I'm ready to take the Rookie stripe off and go for next year."
Carroll will receive his Sunoco Rookie of the Year honor as part of the NASCAR Home tracks Awards ceremony on Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.