This season Motorsport.com will feature drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as they battle for the 2018 championship.
This week we feature two-time NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Anthony Kumpen.
Hometown: Hasselt, Belgium
How rewarding was it to win the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 title in your career?
It was amazing. I have always been a NASCAR fan while i was racing in GT’s. When I heard about their European championship, I wanted to be there. Becoming champion in my first season was amazing. Now being a double champion and having done Daytona and several races in Xfinity has been fantastic. It’s great to be part of the NASCAR family.
What have you been up to in the offseason? Any new news to share with fans in Europe or America?
I didn’t have a lot of free time. I worked on several racing projects. This year I’m racing the Belgian GT championship for Porsche, I worked very hard to get our level up for the Euro NASCAR season. I have been talking to several teams in USA, the goal is to make my Monster Energy Cup debut this season or early next season. Working with a lot of sponsors to make it happen. And have been doing some great things with Monster Energy, now I am one of their official athletes and we have some cool things coming up later this year.
You've raced in America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. How did the NWES help prepare you to compete in the races in the U.S.?
The NWES is perfect for a European driver to start in NASCAR. You get to know the rules, the type of cars, the spirit, the people involved, … This makes the step to racing in US way more easy. It’s a huge opportunity for European drivers
Do you plan to race in the US again in the future?
Yes that’s the goal. I really would love to do a full season in USA. Since 2014 I have been working towards this goal. You need to find the right partners and sponsor deals to get you in for a full season in Monster Energy Cup. I have been in contact with several companies who could be the perfect fit, but it all has to fall in place in the right time. There are several Belgian companies that have huge export to the US market, such as some of the Belgian famous beer companies. On the other hand there are already big Belgian & European companies involved in NASCAR in US and big US companies that export a lot to Europe and Belgium. If it falls within their marketing strategy a European driver could be a perfect fit to grow those kind of brands in Europe or US. At this stage there is no European driver in the Monster Energy Cup, so I’m sure there will come opportunities in the near future.
With the competition getting stronger and stronger, what do you expect from the upcoming season? Who will be the main contenders?
The field is getting stronger and that’s great. The guys who battled for victories and the championship over the past years, such as Alon Day, Fred Gabillon and Bjora Garcia will remain strong. There are some youngsters gaining more experience such as Longin, Tineo Aroyo and Ercoli. Then you have the experienced drivers such as Goosens, Bouchut and Ianetta (with an experienced Monster Energy Cup team). I also expect Loris Hezemans to be good. So more drivers that will be able to win, but the first 3 of my list I see as the main championship contenders I will have to fight.
What makes being a part of the NWES special to you?
It’s NASCAR, it’s close racing, it’s great atmosphere in the paddock, it’s something you can only feel once you visited a NASCAR race.
How have your fans responded to you being a NASCAR Champion from your two titles you've won already?
I have fans that have followed me for years. As I have been racing GT cars in several championships, mainly FIA GT, Le Mans, Spa 24, … they were a bit surprised when I stepped into NASCAR. But since I’m in a lot of my fans attended races and they all became NASCAR fans. The popularity has grown a lot and there are many who want to see me racing in US and come over as they really like it.
Is there an event in the calendar you particularly look forward this year?
Obviously the finals at my home track Zolder. I grew up 10 miles from this track, I did my first practice and race on this track. I have a big fanbase attending and it feels like home. Would be great to win my third ring on my home track.
Is there a moment from your career so far that you are particularly happy to remember?
There are a few. Winning Spa 24 hours in 2009, in a fierce battle where after 20 hours of racing we were one of five cars within in 15 seconds in the highest level GT race in the world. My first NASCAR title in 2014 was very special. And also my first NASCAR race at Daytona.
What is your training routine?
I am a big cycling fan. I do a lot of endurance training on the bike. I know a lot of pro riders and I train with some of them. I also attend the gym almost every day and I go to the go-kart track with my youngest son every week. We race hard and he’s very talented so he keeps me in shape.