A second peerless drive in as many days saw Alon Day sweep the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Zolder Finals weekend, as Ander Vilarino clinched a record third EuroNASCAR title.
His nearest rival, Nicolo Rocca, was eliminated from the weekend in Saturday’s race (with Rocca tweeting an on-board video after the race seeming to place blame on Anthony Kumpen) and didn’t even make the start of Sunday’s finale. And after a 6th place finish in Race 1, Vilarino needed only to bring his #2 TFT Banco-Santander Chevrolet SS home in one piece to seal an unprecedented third title, and true to form, the ice-cold Spaniard made it look like an easy Sunday drive.
An already depleted grid after several withdrawals, including Rocca’s crash-damaged machine and newly-crowned Elite 2 champion Gianmarco Ercoli, the race lost Bert Longin to the gravel trap after just two corners in a congested start at Circuit Zolder. After that the race settled down, with Day picking up where he left off on Saturday with another peerless drive. The young Israeli driver has been one of many breakout stars in EuroNASCAR’s class of 2015, and his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet has enjoyed a fabulous season-ending flourish. All eyes will be on whether he can continue this momentum into 2016 and beyond.
Behind Day, several battles picked up – Day’s teammate Eddie Cheever III in the #51 Chevrolet had mirrors full of home hero Kumpen in the PK Carsport #24 Chevrolet, as the outgoing champion was keen to end the season on a high on home soil. Frederic Gabillon hauled his #3 RDV Compétition Ford Mustang closer and closer to Kumpen as the race progressed, but ultimately it was honours even as Cheever and Kumpen completed a deserved podium. Behind, Vilarino had an entertaining battle with Romain Iannetta’s #7 TFT Chevrolet, losing out on the final lap in a scrap that was ultimately inconclusive to Vilarino sealing his championship victory.
For EuroNASCAR, 2015 has been a watershed season for NASCAR’s youngest regional series. Any doubts that NASCAR could flourish in the traditionally open-wheel and non-oval heartlands of Europe have been put to bed, and the strength of talent in the roster is increasing by the weekend. In Vilarino, the series has its own legend already: Europe’s own Jimmie Johnson. And as he books his flights to NASCAR’s Night of Champions event in Charlotte, his rivals will head back to lick their wounds and build for a 2016 season featuring a new body style, new faces, and the momentum of NASCAR in Europe continuing to snowball.