Alon Day (#54 CAAL Racing Toyota Camry) survived a fantastic battle for the win in the ELITE 1 Round 8 Final at Tours Speedway, France, to edge Bobby Labonte (#18 YACCO RDV Compétition Toyota Camry) and Romain Iannetta (#32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang) under the checkered flag.
The Israeli won his 14th NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race and the first one an oval track, bringing home the 5.000€ check for grabbing the Sunday win in the Oval World Challenge. Winning his Semi Final and starting on the pole for the Final played a key role in Day’s success on the French track.
“I wasn’t the fastest today but it was great teamwork on CAAL Racing’s side,” said Day after his fourth win of the season. “I had a quicker time than Gabillon in the semi final so I started from the pole position. Since then I just defended like hell. The CAAL Racing team did an amazing job today. I won over a NASCAR Cup Champion today and that is something incredible. He was there in the last few laps and he was on my bumper, I thought that I wouldn’t gonna do it but I fought until my last breath. I am happy but also really, really exhausted.”
After a clutch problem forced him out of the ELITE 1 Round 7 on Saturday, Labonte put up a fantastic show on Sunday. The NASCAR legend came finished fourth in his Semi Final. He started seventh in the Final and climbed up to second in spectacular fashion before a late caution brought the field back together. With the Cone Rule in place, Gabillon opted for the outside lane for the last restart to try to sweep the weekend, while Labonte took the inside behind Day. The move didn’t pay off for Gabillon and Labonte tried everything he could to pass Day for the win in the last four laps. He didn’t find a way past the Israeli but he scored his first Euro NASCAR podium.
“It was such a hard race because of the grip level and the degradation of the tires,” said Labonte after the race. “The car changed a lot and the bottom line was always the groove. Alon did a great Job holding his line. I got to his bumper but you don’t crash people to win a race. He didn’t do anything wrong. I tried to get him and maybe there was a chance with a few more laps. My team did a great job and today was a good day but first would have been better.”
The gamble didn’t pay off for Gabillon, but the Frenchman was looking for the fourth win of the weekend for RDV Compétition and brought home two important prizes: the team will be invited to the July 12-15 Goodwood Festival of Speed, after which Gabillon will head to Canada to take part in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race at the hugely popular GP3R at Trois-Rivières on August 10-12.
Day and Labonte were joined on the podium by Romain Iannetta (#32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang), who also scored the first ELITE 1 podium for Go Fas Racing with a huge comeback from last on the grid. Loris Hezemans (#50 Hendriks Motorsports Ford Mustang), who won the Junior Trophy, and Alex Sedgwick (#90 Braxx Racing Ford Mustang) – the British driver was second in the Junior Trophy – rounded out the top 5.
Stuck on the outside at the final restart, Gabillon finished ahead of Alexander Graff (#77 Memphis Racing Chevrolet Camaro), Wilfried Boucenna (#73 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang), Gianmarco Ercoli (#9 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang) and Mauro Trione (#31 Race Art Technology – Blu Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro), who rounded out top 10. The Swiss also won the Legend Trophy ahead of Kenko Miura (#2 Alex Caffi Motorsport Toyota Camry).
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will now head to the most crucial moment of the season, the playoffs, with double points on the line, on September 15-16 at the legendary Hockenheimring in Germany. Qualifying and races will be streamed live at Fanschoice.tv, the Euro NASCAR YouTube channel, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Facebook page, motorsport.tv and several websites and Facebook pages around the world.