The 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series‘ season opener is not until September, but DF1 Racing is already leading the standings. When DF1 driver Andre Castro finished second in Tuesday’s EuroNASCAR Esports Series finale, he secured the sim racing title in addition to 40 points for his #22 car in the real-life Teams Championship.
Like the NASCAR Cup Series on the other side of the Atlantic and many other motorsports, the Whelen Euro Series turned to iRacing and other related video games during the spring after COVID-19 forced the real-life series to the sidelines. Unlike its racing peers, the NWES decided to add real-life implications with points earned in the ENES going to the NWES Teams Championship. This concept is unprecedented in sim racing and was met with skepticism from fans when it was announced, many of whom felt it detracts from the otherwise relaxed environment set by other leagues like the Cup Series’ eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
Castro, who races in the EuroNASCAR 2 division, recorded a runner-up finish in the ENES finale at Circuit Zolder to Tobias Dauenhauer. The Colombian-American won the season opener in April at Daytona International Raceway’s road course, followed by a second victory on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval in July.
He entered the Zolder race with a 12-point advantage on reigning NWES champion Loris Hezemans and a 25-point gap on Dauenhauer, both of whom race for Hendriks Motorsport. Castro ended the ENES season with 343 points to Dauenhauer’s 328, while Hezemans finished thirty-fifth in the race after wrecking and fell to fifth in the standings with 265 points. Between the Hendriks drivers were Alon Day (288) and Bryan Crauwels (276).
“The math was going through my head all the time, especially in the last two weeks,” Castro stated. “I figured out early that it didn’t matter what the others would do as long as I ended up on the podium. I tried to score the pole position to get away from the midfield and eventual troubles. It didn’t work so I started third, but got a decent start and from then on it just worked out fine.
“It’s great to be the first ENES champion in history and it’s pretty cool to win the championship in my pajamas.”
With the title win, Castro’s #22 DF1 Racing car received 40 points in the Teams Championship; he moved to the team for the 2020 season after spending 2019 with PK Carsport and Marko Stipp Motorsport. Dauenhauer and Hezemans’ #50 Hendriks Motorsport team gets 35 points, followed by Day’s #24 PK Carsport car with 34.
Every position onward received one fewer point, with Crauwels’ #78 Braxx Motors machine in fourth with 33 points and Ulysse Delsaux‘s #10 for RDV Competition in fifth with 32.
The 2020 Whelen Euro Series season kicks off with the NASCAR GP Italy at the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi on 12–13 September.