HEUSDEN-ZOLDER, Belgium – Anthony Kumpen grabbed his fifth win of the season – the seventh of his NASCAR career – on his home track by conquering the first race of the American Festival Circuit Zolder NASCAR Finals on Saturday.
After a good start from second place, the Belgian took advantage of early contact between polesitter Alon Day and Frederic Gabillon to take the lead and maintain it until the checkered flag. Kumpen won by eight tenths of a second over a charging Gabillon, who completed a spectacular comeback.
“I knew Fred Gabillion and Alon Day were going to battle if they want to win the championship and I tried to avoid any trouble,” said Kumpen. “They touched two or three times and that opened the door for me. From there on, I was just trying to be cautious, which was not very easy,” said the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion. I made a lot of mistakes, I may have been a bit too nervous, I may have been a bit to focused on trying to provide the fans here at my home track a great race. I’m really really happy to win here at home and also compete for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Championship. It’s not over yet and tomorrow is definitely going to be another great race and I want the fans to see a great show.”
The contact sent Day one lap down and Gabillon fell back to the middle of the field, but both title contenders took advantage of the yellow flag that waved on lap five to allow the allow the recovery of Martin Doubek’s car from the gravel at the last chicane.
In a frantic restart, Gabillon climbed position after position until he got the upper hand on Nicolò Rocca for second, wh Rocca finished third and won the Junior “Jerome Sarran” Trophy.
A solid Gianmarco Ercoli ended up fourth, while debutant Ranger Van der Zande scored his first top-five in NASCAR competition.
Freddy Nordstrom also brought home another top-10 ahead of Day, who will start second in Sunday’s ELITE 1 finale. Borja Garcia will start from the pole in that race.
CREDIT: NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications