With six different winners in eight events, the Challenger Trophy will definitely be an highlight of the ELITE 1 Division in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series playoffs as Dario Caso leads the standings with a 7-point advantage on Kenko Miura entering the Sept 15-16 Semi Finals at Hockenheim, Germany.
Newcomer Mauro Trione emerged from Tours as a potential contender after scoring his first top-10 of the season and sits just 24 points behind Caso, a gap that could be easily filled in the playoffs with double-points paying races.
The only multiple winner of 2018, Caso is in the hunt for his second Challenger Trophy title after winning it in 2016 and finishing second in 2017. The Italian veteran grabbed the win in the special classification rewarding non-professional ELITE 1 driver a total three times at Valencia, Brands Hatch and Tours and made consistency his main weapon by finishing outside the top-15 just twice.
“The first part of the season was positive. I was aiming at a place in the top-10 but I didn’t succeed yet. I hope to move up in the last four races of the season,” said Dario Caso, who drives the #8 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang. “With double points on the line, finishing races will be fundamental. We’ll have to finish and get good results too, trying to stay ahead of the competition, but first of all we’ll need to finish. I’d be really happy to grab a top-10 and that would surely help in the Challenger Trophy.”
Caso’s main rival Kenko Miura definitely agrees on the importance of reaching the finish line. The Alex Caffi Motorsports driver is in his first full-time season at the wheel of the #2 Toyota Camry after racing a part-time schedule in 2017. Miura hit trouble at Valencia and Franciacorta, but from there his season went progressing and he finished 11th twice at Brands Hatch and Tours and looks forward to two tracks he already knows to further improve.
“It is my first full season in Europe and it was extremely important to gain valuable experience and that’s what we did with my team in the regular season. This little gap allows us to shoot for the Trophy, but I’m generally aiming at improving my overall results and move toward the top of the ELITE 1,” said Miura. “It will be absolutely fundamental to finish every race and and take the best possible position.”
Caso and Miura faced each other at Hockenheim last year in the ELITE 2 Division and both times it was the Italian who finished ahead of the Japanese.
“Kenko is very good. Maybe he lacks just a little bit of consistency but that will come with together with the experience in this championship,” said Caso. “The battle for the Challenger Trophy against him is very interesting and I think it will go down to the last race of the season”
“Dario has a very aggressive driving style, but even if it doesn’t always work your way, going on the attack is what makes racing exciting. I respect Dario and the way he races.” Miura said.
The 2018 Euro NASCAR playoffs will get underway on September 15-16 with the NASCAR GP of Germany at the legendary Hockenheimring and all the races will be streamed live on on Fanschoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, the NWES Facebook page and Youtube channel and a vast network of websites and social media profiles around the world.