Part of the American SpeedFest weekend at Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch, UK - After setting the pole position this morning, Eddie Cheever III (#51 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) led all the laps of a hard-fought ELITE 1 Saturday race, conquering his first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series win, the lead in the championship standings and the first victory for an Italian driver in a NASCAR sanctioned race.
“It’s an incredible week-end for us! We didn’t practiced yesterday and this morning we made the pole. It was an hard race, but we won it and I couldn’t be happier!” said Cheever.
The 21-year old CAAL Racing driver, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, smartly defended his lead from the attacks brought by Frederic Gabillon (#12 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Ander Vilarino (#2 TFT-Banco Santander Chevrolet SS) in a race that showcased how close is the competition in the European NASCAR series in perfect short-track style. Seven cars raced in the leading group and exciting door-to-door battles characterized the 25-minutes race.
Gabillon and Vilarino tried to take advantage of two double file restarts – the last one coming with just 2 minutes to go after Romain Thievin’s (#9 Exotics Racing by Still Ford Mustang) ended up in the barriers on the way down from Druids – but they ended up second and third when the yellow flags waved again due to a contact between Freddy Nordström (#44 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Simone Monforte (#88 Euro Kart Racing Team Chevrolet Camaro) and the race ended behind the safety car. Vilarino had just passed Gabillon for the second place, but the results were set per rulebook on the last green flag lap and the two will definitely want to have their revenge in the Sunday Race.
Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) started seventh and drove his way up to fourth, just ahead of Borja Garcia (#1 Ford Autolix Competition Ford Mustang) and the DF1 Racing by B66 duo of Christophe Bouchut (#77 DF-1 Racing by B66 Chevrolet Camaro) and Mathias Lauda (#66 DF-1 Racing by B66 Chevrolet Camaro). Markus Palttala (#46 RCP - Marc VDS Toyota Camry), Bas Leinders (#32 RCP - Marc VDS Toyota Camry) and Nicolò Rocca (#25 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) complete the top-10.
Cheever won the Jerome Sarran Trophy classification ahead of Rocca and Victor Guerin (#83 Brazil Team Chevrolet SS). The Challenger Trophy classification went to Fabrizio Armetta (#31 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS), who preceeded Guillaume Rousseau (#13 Bull Racing Team Ford Mustang) and Nicolas Gaudin (#85 VTS 85 Chevrolet Camaro).
Tomorrow’s Sunday Race – green flag at 1:20 PM GMT – will see Vilarino start from the pole, ahead of Kumpen, Garcia and Bouchut. Cheever will take the green from the fifth place.