Gabriele Gardel (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) took the win by leading flag to flag in a tight ELITE 2 Final 1 at Circuit Zolder. The Swiss won for the second time this year after taking the first Semi Final race at Adria, Italy in September that suddenly propelled him back into title contention, cutting Stienes Longin’s (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) lead to 26 points as the Belgian experienced technical troubles on the grid finishing 24th .
“I’m really happy to have an opportunity to run for the Championship. I’ve had good luck in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Stienes had some trouble and we were in a good position to capitalize. Our car was really good today but we’re gonna need to make a few adjustments for tomorrow’s race. As the track temperatures went down from early in the day, the car started to slide around a bit too much,” said Gardel, who drove the #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS to Victory Lane for the second time today. “Thomas Ferrando had a really good race. He drove real hard and put pressure on us every lap but we were able to stay out front and take the checkered flag. I want to thank my PK Carsport team, they did a super job and are just fantastic guys!”
Drama Struck early at Circuit Zolder, as Longin’s car refused to move from the grid for the formation lap forcing him to eventually start at the back of the field. While Gardel and Thomas Ferrando (#37 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang) battled all race long at the front, separated by less than one second in a spectacular dance around the 4.011 Kms of Circuit Zolder, Longin had to come to pit road, losing several laps and had to focus on setting the fastest lap to start first for Sunday’s Final 2.
Gardel fended off every attack from an aggressive Ferrando and took the checkered flag with a .906 advantage on the Frenchman. Martin Doubek (#5 Dexwet Renauer Team Ford Mustang) had the better hand on Eric De Doncker (#98 Motorsport 98 Ford Mustang) in a hard-fought but fair battle for third,scoring his first NASCAR podium, while the Belgian won the Legend Trophy classification. Roman Mavlanov (#1 SPV Racing Ford Mustang) rounded out the top-5 and won the Rookie Cup.
Hugo Bec (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang) edged Guillaume Deflandre (#21 Team Raceway Venray Chevrolet SS) and Paul Guiod (#73 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang) for sixth. Italian newcomer Luca Tosini (#33 Alex Caffi Motorsports Ford Mustang) finished ninth in his first ever NASCAR race and Legend Trophy Leader Jerry De Weerdt (#78 Brass Racing Ford Mustang) completed the top-10.
Title contender Salvador Tineo Arroyo (#54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) had troubles early when he found himself with a flat tire while running second and ended up 17th.
In a late effort, Longin was able to clock the fastest lap of the race, beating Riccardo Geltrude (#7 Double-T by Nocentini Ford Mustang) by .001 seconds. The two will share the first row for the ELITE 2 Final 2, followed by Tineo Arroyo and Gardel in what promises to be an action-packed final battle. The race will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv (http://bit.ly/nweslive) and on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Facebook page, where fans will be able to interact with the commentators. Live updates will be available on the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live Page (http://bit.ly/nwes16x06rcl) and the @EuroNASCAR Twitter profile.