In England yesterday Cambridgeshire's John Mickel became the first ever winner of an American-style oval race in Europe. The 29 year old who has raced on short ovals since he was ten achieved his historic victory in the ASCAR Mintex Cup as he beat...
In England yesterday Cambridgeshire's John Mickel became the first ever winner of an American-style oval race in Europe. The 29 year old who has raced on short ovals since he was ten achieved his historic victory in the ASCAR Mintex Cup as he beat Dutchman Michael Vergers by 0.2 seconds after a race long battle on the one and a half mile banked oval at Rockingham Motor Speedway near Corby, England.
After trading insults with American racer Mark Claussner in the build up to the event, the #24 Torquespeed driver Mickel, let his driving do the talking as Claussner spun his car into the wall exiting turn four on only the second lap.
The Torquespeed Chevy Monte Carlo had been tucked up behind Claussner and at first it was speculated that Mickel may have been living up to his "Eliminator" reputation. After the race he said "maybe there was a 'love tap' or maybe Claussner can't handle this track, the fans in turn four know exactly what happened." Despite the war of words race officials saw no reason to take any action against Mickel, who moved to second place chasing Dutchman Michael Vergers.
On lap 35 debris on the racetrack caused the seond caution period, and delivered a rush of pit stops with the thundering field diving to the pit lane. The Torquespeed crew performed a blistering service and with just the three men allowed over the wall, got the job done in just 19 seonds, putting Mickel out ahead of his rival in the #3 car.
Mickel absorbed all the pressure and moves that the Dutchman could muster until on lap 46 a further caution period was instigated following a massive 150 miles per hour three-car shunt in turn one. Safety crews worked hard to remove the cars, and due to the high safety standards all the drivers involved, Mark Proctor, Phil Weaver and Steve Dudman, escaped serious injury.
At the restart Mickel out-gunned Vergers again and although tracked by the #3 car, kept his cool in the lead position even when Vergers lunged to the outside in turn four on the final lap. Mickel's margin of victory was just 0.2 seconds at the chequered flag bringing the 15,000 Holiday Monday crowd to their feet.
After completing celebratory "donuts" Mickel was in emotional mood in Victory Lane and just managed to say "I owe it all to my crew. We've grown up around the short ovals together and most of them have been with me since I was 10, they didn't let me down. They won it for me."
Torquespeed Owner and Mickel's spotter during races Paul Musselle, was equally choked at the teams performance "Mickel is THE man and this Torquespeed Pit Crew are THE best! What a feeling, My heart nearly jumped through my chest on those last 5 laps. We came here looking for a top five finish and here we are in Victory lane, Wow!" The duo went on to thank all the team sponsors without whose support and patience, they said, this wouldn't have been possible.
Mickel and Torquespeed return to The ASCAR Mintex Cup at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby England on ChampCar race day, the 22nd September.