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The October 8-9 final event of the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season at Circuit Zolder left an indelible mark in EuroNASCAR’s history with a huge success, the result of a unique mix of exciting door-to-door action on track, a one-of-a-kind Grand Marshal in NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon and spectacular american-themed trackside attractions.
NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon joined thousands of fans on the grid before the start of the final ELITE 1 race of the season and not only gave the command to start the engines to the NWES drivers, but also presented Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Trophy in Victory Lane after the race, celebrating the Belgian’s second title in three years and contributing once again as NASCAR ambassador to the growth of the sport all over the World.
“It was great to be a part of the season finale of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Zolder, and I was impressed with the popularity of the series,” said Gordon. “I like that NASCAR has a presence in Europe and I look forward to seeing the sport grow there.”
“These great Finals perfectly ended the best season in NWES history. Since created in 2009, the series never stopped growing and became one of the most popular in Europe. How many series can attract over 25 000 fans per event ? Thanks to long term partnerships and great support from NASCAR, our sponsors and our track partners, NWES will continue to develop and I can’t see any limit. 2017 is already on the way and promise to be even better ! ” said NWES President / CEO Jerome Galpin.
A huge crowd of over 20.000 fans filled the grandstands, the paddock and the grid of the historic Belgian track and cheered hometown hero Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) as the Hasselt-native brought home his second NWES title and performed a huge burn-out on the start-finish line to celebrate in perfect NASCAR style. Kumpen won the Saturday Race and a seventh place in the Sunday Race secured his Championship by 11 points on Frederic Gabillon (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang) who went on to win his fourth race of the season, becoming the first driver in NWES history to never finish outside the top-5 in a full season but coming up just short once again in the title hunt.
“It was the most special racing weekend in my entire life. Winning in front of my crowd, on my own track, with Jeff Gordon there to support NWES is something unique and unforgettable,” said Kumpen, who will be rewarded at the NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Series Awards on December 10 at the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. “All the friends and the sponsors that came to Zolder were really impressed by the huge crowd and the amount of activities and attractions available around the track for racing enthusiasts, families and kids. Zolder was one of the crown jewels of this incredible season.”
The PK Carsport team completed a spectacular sweep by monopolizing the ELITE 2 Division at Zolder. Gabriele Gardel (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) won the Saturday race to secure the Teams Championship for the #24 Chevrolet SS and jump back in title contention as Stienes Longin (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) hit trouble before the start, but on Sunday in was Longin who delivered yet another dominant performance to win his 8th race of the season – a new record across the two NWES Divisions – and clinched the ELITE 2 title by the widest margin in NWES history.
In the wake of the huge success obtained by the second edition of the American Festival Circuit Zolder NASCAR Finals, the contract between NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Circuit Zolder has been extended until 2021, granting the Belgian fans at least five more years of amazing racing and entertainment.
The date of the next edition of the Circuit Zolder Finals will be revealed in the upcoming weeks, together with the rest of the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar.