Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) Sunoco Rookie of the Year Calvin Carroll of Andover, NJ got a jumpstart on his racing season during the recent week long run in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
Debuting a new Troyer chassis and fitted with a Robert Yates spec motor built by Bob Bruneau, Carroll ran steady and smooth across the five days of action and capped off his Speed Week with a solid sixth place tally in the Richie Evans Memorial 100.
Carroll and the No. 25 Power With Prestige team which is owned by his father, Joe Carroll, left the Sunshine State with enthused optimism as they now prepare for the season opening NWMT Safety Kleen 150 at Myrtle Beach Speedway on March 17.
“I felt it was a very important week for us. We treated it more as a test session, running at the same track every day for five days. We improved daily even if the results didn’t show it. The car got better each day and it really showed on the last day. It made the whole week worth it finishing towards the front that night,” said the 17-year old Carroll.
However, it wasn’t just the week of racing that has Carroll pumped about the upcoming season but more so the addition of noted crew chief Stash Butova who has signed on to guide the upstart beginning with the Myrtle Beach race.
“I’m super excited about it. I really feel he (Butova) will not just help me but our whole team this year with better results. He seems really the same way to be working with me and it’s the same with me to him,” said Carroll.
When it comes to Modifieds, Butova has an impeccable reputation of working with great talent and garnering positive results. His teaming with the Carroll was firmed last week.
“Right before Speed Weeks I reached out to the Carroll family knowing that they were looking for a crew chief. We started talking and it just made sense this would be a good fit that we get together,” said Butova.
Butova first met up with the Carroll team during a NWMT event last season at Stafford Speedway. Having a keen eye for talent he felt that Calvin could bud into a solid performer on the Tour.
“What I saw in the team was a good, hard working family. But I always felt there was that something missing and I could tell that Calvin had potential,” explained Butova.
“I feel that they understand my record working with other drivers who won races and championships and all that stuff. But when you hand over the reins to someone, key is trust and as long as the family gives me the full trust and Calvin believes in me I think everything will be fine.”
In 2017 Carroll locked down the Rookie of the Year, was the NWMT Hoosier Tire Most Improved Driver and finished 12th in points. He had a best finish of third during the 150-lapper at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also tested an ARCA car at Daytona and was approved for Superspeedway races.
“One of my fortes is I’m good at nurturing young talents in bringing them up. The thing that intrigues me the most with Calvin is unlike a lot of other young kids he actually does all of the work on the cars himself for the most part,” said Butova.
“So he has an understanding of the technical end of it. From that standpoint we need to translate that into his driving and we want to make that whole good combination.
“Once we can establish running up front, communication on pit stops and then more importantly finishing top-10, then finishing top-5s and essentially learning how to win because it will take a few times to learn how to win before you can win.”
For Carroll, one of the ups for 2018 is returning to many of the same tracks from last year where he will look to improve.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to many of the same tracks from last year because that will be a big plus for me,” said Carroll.
“Not only do we have our notebook to go off of but now we’ll have Stash and all of his knowledge to work off of. Knowing what to except when we return will be a big plus for me.”
Expectations from both Carroll and Butova are of course upbeat but understandably it will take some time to become acclimated to one another. Given Butova’s background and the excellent work ethic of Carroll, the anticipation of good outings may come sooner than later.
“Running in the top five is one thing but when you’re trying to win and race against guys like Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Timmy Solimito, they have talented teams and are talented drivers. But there are still ways that you can strategize to still win,” said Butova.
“It’s not going to happen overnight but I think that you build as a team and when you start running better you are more optimal to get more team members to improve what you have. I’m excited to get started,” he continued.
“I think that legitimately running consistently in the top-10 and time trialing up front and then contending for a win. I feel that any driver, any crew chief – that’s what they want, is just an opportunity to go and compete against the best and if we can do that it will be a pretty successful year.”