Israeli sensation Alon Day took a second career NASCAR Whelen Euro Series victory in commanding fashion at Circuit Zolder in the first of two ELITE 1 races of the weekend, as the frantic championship battle was turned on its head with one race still to go to decide a 2015 EuroNASCAR champion.
Day, in the #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, led away from pole and for the majority of the race held a good advantage over teammate Eddie Cheever III in the #51 machine. Meanwhile, the first of many title twists occured when third CAAL Racing driver Nicolo Rocca (#56), second in points behind Ander Vilarino coming in to the weekend, spun out of 4th place and went tumbling down the order – positions that were never recovered. Anthony Kumpen in the PK Carsport #24 Chevrolet, reigning EuroNASCAR champion and another title contender, profited and took P4, while teammate Bert Longin in the #11 spun down at Turn 1 at half distance.
Then after 13 laps, another dramatic twist as Frederic Gabillon’s #3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang went spinning into the barriers and out of third place. His own title ambitions were in the dust, and the race was now set for a Green-White-Checkered finish.
Day drove immaculately off the final restart to retain the lead, and an accident involving Tim Verbergt (#20 Racing Club Partners Toyota Camry) and Mathias Lauda (#66 DF1 Racing Chevrolet SS) brought the race to a premature end at 17 laps. The classification was brought back to the previous lap as per rulebook, which meant Verbergt and Lauda kept the 4th and 6th places respectively that they had before their incident (until Lauda was later excluded for his part in the wreck), but it didn’t affect the podium – Day with a commanding victory, and Cheever III and Kumpen both advancing their own title hopes. Vilarino, point leader coming into the weekend and a two-time former EuroNASCAR champion, could only manage 6th, but with dramas befalling Rocca, is still in a commanding position to take EuroNASCAR title number 3 tomorrow afternoon.
“Winning is always nice!” noted a jubilant Day at race’s end. “It wasn’t easy this time because Eddie was really quick and for the first part of race he put a lot of pressure on me. Every lap was as a qualifying lap. Then we built a good gap and I could slow down to manage the tires thinking about tomorrow. The restart wasn’t easy because Eddie was close again, but we managed to survive Turn 1 and open a gap again until the end of the race. I’m not thinking about the championship, I just want to think about tomorrow’s race.”
With a fastest lap, Day will start tomorrow’s climactic showdown from the pole, and after a day of drama and action where nine drivers started the day in the title picture and not all survived the day with hopes intact, it’s advantage CAAL Racing on the day, and veteran Vilarino in the championship battle.