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Best Of 2014: Whelen Euro Series

Kumpen Wins In Record Setting Season
Gian Luca Guiglia
December 25, 2014 - 1:00pm

In 2014 the NASCAR Whelen euro series sat a number of records, showing in it's third year under the NASCAR banner an ever increasing level of competition and parity on track. Both the divisions were decided in the last race of the Le Mans Finals, with Anthony Kumpen edging two-time champion Ander Vilarino by just one point to claim the title -and the ring - of European NASCAR Champion. 

A spectacular seven different drivers won at least one race and led at least one lap in the ELITE 1 Division, while eight won in the ELITE 2 Division and a grand total of completed one lap ahead of the field.

The number of NASCAR dedicated events increased to four thanks to the addition of the season opener in Valencia, Spain and the Semi Finals in Magione, Italy. All four the American-themed weekends had an incredible success, drawing thousands of fans to the track to enjoy great racing and family entertainment. The excitement was so high that for 2015 all six events in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar will revolve entirely around NASCAR.

VIDEO: ANTHONY KUMPEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Top Driver

Anthony Kumpen - After building himself an impressive resume in GT racing all over the world, the 36-year-old Belgian realized one of his dreams by winning his first NASCAR championship in his rookie season. And he did it in tremendous fashion, by showing an unmatchable consistency all season long and delivering under pressure at Le Mans, where he also won his first career NASCAR race.

Ander Vilarino (honorable mention) - The Spaniard kept up with his reputation in 2014 and won a series-high 4 races, but came just one point short in his quest for the third title in a row. The result is mostly due to a couple of on-track episodes that prevented him from scoring important points, but he led the series not only in wins, but also in laps led and fastest laps, demonstrating once again his strength. 

Comeback Driver Of The Year

Frederic Gabillon - Frederic Gabillon earns this recognition for the second consecutive time thanks to another spectacular comeback after a disappointing weekend in Valencia that left him far down in the standings. The Frenchman, who finished second behind Vilarino in 2013, climbed back steadily and put himself back in contention for the Le Mans Finals, but a problem with his car killed his hopes while he was leading in the first race on the French weekend.

Philipp Lietz (honorable mention) - With no experience at the wheel of a stock-car and a background mostly consisting in rallies, the Austrian driver initially approached the European NASCAR Series using consistency as his strongest weapon, but as the race passed he also picked up his pace and became a contender. After winning his first race in dramatic fashion at Magione in the Semi Finals, Lietz almost turned the tables at Le Mans, falling just 7 points short of ELITE 2 Division title with his #86 TB Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang.

Top Team

PK Carsport - By winning the ELITE 1 Division championship with Anthony Kumpen and the ELITE 2 Divison title with Maxime Dumarey, the Belgian team completed the en-plein conquering also the Teams Championship in a perfect debut season for the #24 Chevrolet SS. Bert Longin in the #11 also finished sixth in the standings.

CAAL Racing (honorable mention) - The Italian team fielded three cars for the entire season and collected an impressive amount of trophies along the way, thanks to the efforts of Eddie Cheever, Fabrizio Armetta -winner of the Challenger Trophy - Nicolò Rocca, Gianmarco Ercoli and Simone Laureti.

Top Performances

Eddie Cheever - In his first season racing with closed wheels, the son of former Indianapolis 500 winner left a deep mark and showed an enormous potential. The Italian consistently fought for the win and brought home three races on his way to the third place in the standings and the first in the Junior "Jerome Sarran" Trophy. He also won the Race And Win Pole Award for scoring the highest number of poles during the season.

Thomas Ferrando (honorable mention)- At just 17 years of age, the NWES Drivers Program member made an impressive debut in the European NASCAR series. Fast and consistent all year long, Ferrando's progresses culminated in a fantastic weekend at the Nurburgring, in which he won both the ELITE 2 races in exciting fashion, becoming the youngest race winner in the Series' history. He also concluded the season third in points.

Top Races

Tours Speedway ELITE 1 Sunday Race - The first ever NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race held on an oval under the rain couldn't be more spectacular. The track added a second banking in turns 1 and 2 this year and Mathias Lauda took advantage of the outside line to climb from fourth to first in the last ten laps of the race, for the delight of the French crowd.

Valencia ELITE 1 Saturday Race - The first race of the 2014 season was dominated by the PK Carsport duo of Bert Longin, who started from the pole, and Anthony Kumpen, but while the two Belgian drivers were battling for the lead in the final minutes of the race, it was Yann Zimmer to complete an astonishing move on both of them in turn two to steal an incredible win.

The 2014 Year In Pictures