By DINO OBERTO
(DAYTONA 1-15-17) The last time Calvin Carroll had the chance to visit Daytona International Speedway he was just a young kid running Quarter Midgets. He and his family had been racing at nearby New Smyrna Speedway and made the drive over to check out the “World Center of Racing” were they took a tour and watched some of the action taking place.
This past weekend 16-year old Carroll of Andover, NJ, was back at Daytona only this time he was part of the action. During the two days of ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open testing, Carroll was making his first ever laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Matter of fact it marked his first time in a full bodied stock car and he impressively showed great capability, posting the 19th overall fasted time, 48.333 seconds for a speed of 186.208 mph out of 63 drivers that took laps.
“It was awesome, it was the best thing I’ve ever driven to this point in my career. I was nervous at first but not long after my first laps that all went away,” said Carroll.
Carroll was running Bryan Dauzat’s No. 57c Chevrolet that was prepared by legendary engine builders Bob and Dick Rahilly. Dauzat invited Carroll to test the car.
Carroll’s career began in Quarter Midgets then Micro Stocks where he won regularly. He then moved up to USAC’s Eastern HPD Midget Series were he achieved his career first win on June 14, 2014 at North Carolina’s Ace Speedway. He closed out that year a solid second in points.
In 2015 Carroll once again stepped up the racing ladder when he seated into an asphalt Modified. He began at Pennsylvania’s Mahoning Valley Speedway. Last season he began venturing to other Northeast pavement tracks which included a number of open shows plus a host of starts with the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series and was named Rookie of the Year. He also made a few starts on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
All that traveling last season is actually how Carroll got the opportunity to run the ARCA Daytona test. While at last year’s North-South Shootout at Concord Speedway the acquaintance with Dauzat was made. Dauzat had spoken with Carroll’s father, Joe Carroll, about his season with the Modified and made the offer to come to Daytona.
Once on track Carroll adapted quickly to the speed. After a few single car laps to get familiar with the everything he then took on the draft and pack racing.
“I ran about a half dozen laps by myself and then moved into a group of cars and I felt comfortable. You of course had to pay attention a lot more and just follow the car in front of. If you fell back a little bit you could catch right back up again. We passed a few cars and all in all if was a great experience,” explained Carroll.
“The ARCA officials were great. They took all the rookies out in a van and made sure to point all the details of the track. My car owner Bryan Dauzat was with me the whole time too and he made sure to show me were to hit my marks and run the correct lines. Everyone was very helpful.”
After his time was complete Carroll had several people compliment him on his admirable job despite never having run here before.
“It was nice to have people come up to me afterwards and say I did a nice job and I looked as though I had been at this for a few years,” he noted.
Carroll was given the go-ahead by ARCA to compete on superspeedways, however, that may not be right away. This was just a test run and although he was able to make the most of it, the car will be run by Dauzat. But, depending upon the right circumstances, Carroll is hopeful for a drive in the not too distant future.
“There’s nothing for sure at the present but I’m hoping and keeping my options open to possibly do something with an ARCA car in the upcoming season,” said Carroll.
Until that happens Carroll will be back in the Modified were this season he plans to run for Rookie of the Year honors with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.