At the end of a 260-laps-long U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, Anthony Kumpen finished 28th in what was his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at the wheel of the #15 Nexteer Automotive Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Rick Ware Racing.
The 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series discovered track, car and competitors in the two free practice sessions on Friday and started 35th after a cautious qualifying run on Saturday morning. During the race he improved lap after lap staying away from trouble, making the most of his equipment in a Series full of teams affiliated with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series powerhouses.
“It was maybe one of the toughest races I ever drove, with some many new things in such a different environment and so much traffic on track, but everything went good and I’m happy with the job we did. Traffic was the most challenging thing from the beginning because you have a lot of cars around and choosing the right lines while keeping your pace is very tough,” said the Belgian, whose future schedule in the context of the Nexteer Road To Daytona program include the last two NASCAR XFINITY Series races of the season at Phoenix and Homestead. “I managed to post a better time than in qualifying after 230 laps on used tires. It means that I improved my driving during the race and by finishing the race without a single scratch to the car we gained valuable experience that will be useful in November.”
While young upcoming NASCAR star Ryan Blaney won the race after a dominating run and two Green-White-Checkered attempts, Kumpen left the track knowing what to work on before getting back to States.
“I have a lot more feedback to give to the team now, because I have a much better feeling for the car. It’s a shame because it’s the end of the weekend and I would really like to see how much we can improve with these notes.”
Kumpen will now switch focus back to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title hunt. The Hasselt-native is currently sixth in points – 50 lengths behind leader Ander Vilarino – entering the the two playoff events at Magione, Italy and Zolder, Belgium that will award double points and decide who will be the 2015 EuroNASCAR Champion.
“We’re working hard to be ready for the Semi Finals because I strongly believe we can still have our say in the title’s hunt. We are building a new car that should be ready in a couple of weeks after the previous one got ruined in the crash at Raceway Venray and we are approaching two tracks I like very much,” said Kumpen. “I was very fast in Magione last year and Zolder is my home track, so I’ll do my best to be back in Charlotte at the end of the year, but before I want to thank NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Nexteer Automotive and my sponsors LeasePlan Belgium, EL Systems Keupers Tankstations for this fantastic experience.”
The Autodromo dell’Umbria di Magione will host the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Semi Finals on September 12-13, while the 2015 Finals will take place at Circuit Zolder on October 3-4. Kumpen will then head back to the US for the Phoenix 200 on November 14 and the Ford Ecoboost 300 at Homestead one week later.
ABOUT NASCAR WHELEN EURO SERIES
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series was founded in 2008 and established the NASCAR official European Series in January 2012 thanks to a long-term partnership signed with NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), Team FJ, a Motorsports company located in Blois, France, and Whelen Engineering as title sponsor of the Series.The season is made up of 24 races, equally split among ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 divisions, on the best European tracks. Euro NASCAR introduced a stunning innovation on July 7-8, 2012 by organizing the first ever NASCAR race on an oval track in Europe on a half-mile speedway built in the downtown of Tours (France). With four races in two days, these 400 HP V8 monsters provide pure racing action and thrilling bumper-to-bumper battles as well as a lot of family fun around the track! In the pure NASCAR tradition, race fans can get closer to the action than ever and feel the unique in Europe paddock atmosphere thanks to drivers, teams and cars always available for the spectators.The series attracts drivers from all over the world, all willing to fight on track for the win and take the first step towards becoming a NASCAR star in the U.S.