Lasse Sorensen in the Victory Lane after winning the Elite 2 Race 1 race on his debut.

After a race where 2 race leaders dropped out from the race due to a mechanical issue, Lasse Sørensen from Denmark in his first ever race in NASCAR wins Race 1 of the 2019 NASCAR GP of Italy in the Elite 2 class after he took the lead from Andre Castro with two laps to go. It was the Dane’s first ever victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the first race win for any Denmark driver, and Dexwet DF1 Racing’s first win since Mathias Lauda’s famous victory in the wet oval race at Tours in 2014.

The race itself would begin with drama as Martin Doubek gets spun coming out of turn 2, with Scott Jeffs, Thomas Krasonis, and Max Lanza also having incidents in the opening lap. Apart from Jeffs, everyone was able to return to the track, although it won’t be long before Krasonis had to retire due to the damage sustained in the opening lap incident.

Meanwhile at the front, Florian Venturi would hold the early lead after starting from pole. The Frenchman would lead from Andre Castro, Sørensen, and championship Giorgio Maggi as the field starts to spread away in the first few laps from the race.

On lap 5, however, Florian Venturi’s car broke down and he was forced to retire from the race. The Frenchman, who already suffered a horrible weekend at Valencia, can only watch as his car would slowly crawled his No. 32 Go Fas Camaro to a stop in the short straight between Turns 10 and 11.

“I had a very good start,” said a disappointed Venturi post-race. “The car suddenly stopped working and I didn’t understand why.”

Venturi’s retirement would hand the lead to Castro, who is now having to defend the lead from the charging Sørensen and Maggi. The 20-year old American was doing a superb job at keeping Sørensen and Maggi at bay as the Safety Car was called on lap 14. Ben Creanor had spun himself out at the penultimate corner on lap 11, and with his No. 33 Camaro half-beached in the kitty litter, the marshals had to call the Safety Car to safely recovered Creanor’s Camaro out of the track.

After the Safety Car period, Bert Longin was able to move himself up to third place after an excellent restart, although it won’t be long before Myatt Snider would make his move. On lap 20, Snider made an excellent pass on turn 10, overtaking both Longin and Maggi in the same move to move himself up to third. Longin would then spun himself out exiting turn 10 two laps later, which dropped the Belgian in the No. 11 PK Carsport Camaro down to eleventh.

With two laps to go, it looks as if Castro and Sørensen would have an exciting battle to determine the winner of this race. Then, the No. 24 PK Carsport Camaro crawled down to a stop exiting turn 4, which handed Sørensen the lead for the race. Just like in Valencia Race 1, his chance to win his first race in the Euro Series has evaporated through no fault of his own.

“We actually haven’t figured out what exactly happened,” said Castro post-race. “When I took the lead from Florian I was able to manage the gap. I’m really sad right now, that’s all I can say.”

Sorensen giving the thumbs up after a shocking first win for the Dane.

With Snider too far away to catch Sørensen after his battle for third, Sørensen’s lead would be one that he will not relinquish for the remaining 2 laps of the race. The Dane would take a shock victory to become one of the very few drivers to win a NASCAR Euro race on his debut. Myatt Snider would claim second, his first podium in the series, while Giorgio Maggi will extend his championship lead with a third-place finish for the Swiss driver.

 “That’s amazing, first of all thanks to the whole team. Thanks to DF1 Racing, they put a car together that was totally amazing without any failures,” said Sørensen, the 22-year old Dane, to Mark Werrell after he brought the No. 66 Dexwet DF1 Camaro to the Victory Lane. “As they say, to finish first, first you have to finish. I had a bit luck with Florian retiring early, but I overtook Andre right before his car had problems.”

“In the beginning I didn’t have the handling in the car, but then it really came to me, especially towards the middle of the race” said Snider to Mark Werrell post-race. “The Ford Performance Mustang was great thanks to the good work of the Racing Engineering team. That was a lot of fun for me personally, I was able to bring my American stock car flavour in here and not get everybody mad about it, so that made me happy. Did a crazy 3-wide pass and didn’t get to anybody and ended up getting second from it. I’m pretty happy with today.”

Sorensen, Snider, and Maggi on the podium.

As Sørensen, Snider, and Maggi celebrates in the podium, Justin Kunz and Advait Deodhar had a quietly impressive race, with the German and Indian driver finishing in P4 and P5 for Saturday’s race. Vittorio Ghirelli recovers to sixth after he was forced to start from P12 on the grid after his No. 9 Racers Mustang suffered a mechanical failure on qualifying, with teammate and Valencia Race 2 winner Nicholas Risitano following him behind in P7. The young Israeli Naveh Talor had a very impressive race, finishing eighth ahead of the recovering Bert Longin while Pierluigi Veronesi continues his top 10 streak with a tenth-place finish at yesterday’s race.

Ian Eric Wadén in the No. 23 Memphis Camaro claims the bonus points for the most positions gained with an eleventh-place finish, finishing one second ahead of teammate Freddie Hemborg. Moreno di Silvestre also impresses in his debut, finishing P13 in a car that Mauro Trione had rolled just several hours before. Jerry de Weerdt and Mirco Schultis, owners of Braxx Racing and Mishumotors respectively, finished in fourteenth and fifteenth.

Completing the top 20 are Shaun Hollamby, Martin Doubek, Michael Bleekemolen, Jesse Vartiainen, and Max Lanza. Arianna Casoli in the No. 54 CAAL Chevrolet finished P21 as the last car on the lead lap, with Alessandro Brigatti in the No. 19 Racers Camaro finishing P23 as the last car still running on the track.

Joining Castro, Venturi, Jeffs, Creanor, and Krasonis in the retirements list is Claudio Remigio Cappelli. The VW Fun Cup driver ran in the top 10 for most of the race before he went off at the last turn on lap 18, forcing him to retire from the race after the No. 42 42 Racing Mustang kissed the tire barriers.

In the Elite 2 Drivers Championship table, Giorgio Maggi would extend his championship lead with the third-place finish at yesterday’s race. With 104 points under his name, the Swiss driver is now currently 4 points ahead from Vittorio Ghirelli coming to Sunday’s Race 2. Martin Doubek and Pierluigi Veronesi are now tied for third and fourth with 86 points, with Doubek currently leading by virtue of highest place finish tiebreaker.

Naveh Talor would jump up to fifth, also leading via highest place finish tiebreaker to Mirco Schultis. Another top 5 finish by Deodhar would see him jump to seventh ahead of Jerry de Weerdt, while Myatt Snider and race winner Lasse Sørensen would move up to twelfth and twenty-sixth respectively.

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Elite 2 class would return to action today for Race 2 of NASCAR GP of Italy in Franciacorta. Just like all the other races, the races will be streamed live in,, and the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, with full race replay available at NWES’ YouTube channel.

Photos are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.

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