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.”