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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award has been clinched by Cole Powell.
Powell, from Mount Brydges, Ontario, has captured Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors in nine of 13 events this season behind the wheel of the No. 73 Copps BuildAll/Tricar Developments Chevrolet. The 21-year-old ranks 15th in the Whelen Modified Tour season standings with a best finish of ninth at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 2.
Powell is the 15th driver to earn Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors since the Whelen Modified Tour began recognizing the top first-year competitors in 1999. He is also the first Canadian to secure the award.
“We’re really excited about it,” Powell said. “It’s the first time we’ve really ever gone out for a full season of anything – Late Models or Modifieds – so we had a goal set to get the Rookie of the Year. It feels good to accomplish that goal.”
Powell had a handful of starts between the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours prior to this season. He acknowledged that the team has experienced some adversity in their first full season, but they continue to look forward.
“From everything else that I’ve run [in the past], whether it be Pro Late Models or Super Late Models, I think the Whelen Tours are the stiffest competition I’ve ever been in,” Powell said. “We’ve gone through a lot of bad luck this year, but being the rookie I think you’re allowed to have a year like that, I think everybody goes through that. Going into next year we’ll just keep our head high and hope that things turn around.”
Unlike the majority of full-time Whelen Modified Tour teams that are based in the northeast, Powell’s family team regularly has to travel eight or more hours down from their Canadian home for the events. They relied heavily on U.S.-based crew members to get through the season.
“It was a huge honor for us to work this season with some wonderful American crew members who volunteer their time and effort every race for us,” Powell said. “Their help has been invaluable.”
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings are determined by a driver’s finish relative to other rookies in the race. The top-finishing rookie in a race earns 10 points, the second-highest receives nine, and on down the line. Powell has earned 123 Sunoco Rookie of the Year points through 13 of 14 scheduled events, nearly triple the total of his nearest competition.
Powell also captured Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors in both of his Whelen Southern Modified Tour starts so far this year, including an overall season-best third place finish at historic Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug. 3 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Powell will be formally recognized for this accomplishment at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Saturday, Dec. 14 in the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will close out the 2013 campaign on Sunday, Oct. 20 with the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.