The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns to action this week for the series’ only oval race meet of the season, the 2019 American Car Fest at Raceway Venray. This will mark Venray’s return to the calendar after being absent in 2018 as well as the first Euro Series race meet in history where only one race is scheduled for both classes.
In the Elite 2 class, 18 drivers are set to compete in Venray. Unlike in the Elite 1 class where most of the field have a previous experience with competing in an oval track, only seven drivers in the Elite 2 class that are scheduled to compete in Venray have a past oval track experience: Giorgio Maggi, Myatt Snider, Justin Kunz, Nicholas Risitano, Pierluigi Veronesi, Jerry de Weerdt, and Simone Laureti. Thus, the 70-lap Elite 2 race in Venray on Saturday will not only provide an intense short-track oval action that is customary with NASCAR, it will also give plenty of the youngsters their first taste with competing in an oval.
Unsurprisingly, Myatt Snider will come to Venray as the likeliest driver to win at Venray considering he has the most oval experience out of everyone from both classes that are scheduled to compete at Venray. The 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year is going to feel home at Venray and will be relishing the opportunity to try out what is it like to drive a Euro Series car on an oval.
After an impressive start of the season with a double pole and double fastest lap at Valencia and earning his first podium at Franciacorta, Snider’s season has been going downhill slightly as he and Racing Engineering struggled to find pace in both Brands Hatch and Most, although he does manage to climb from 14th to fifth in Race 2 at Most and is currently sitting in fifth in the Championship. A win at Venray will be the ideal way for him to close out the regular season before going to the double points Playoffs at Hockenheim and Zolder.
Championship leader Giorgio Maggi is also going to relish the opportunity to race in the ovals. Maggi has had a very busy schedule recently, as he was in the Goodwood Festival of Speed last week alongside the driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra Todd Gilliland, team owner of DGR-Crosley (and Todd’s father) David Gilliland, and Euro Series CEO Jerome Galpin to compete in the annual Hillclimb competition driving the Hendriks No. 50 Ford as a reward for becoming the mid-season Teams Championship leader.
Maggi, who is currently 15 points ahead of Vittorio Ghirelli in the Championship, is hoping that he can use both his experience of competing in Venray’s LMV8 Series and his No. 50 teammate Loris Hezemans’ New Smyrna experience to a good use to secure a good result to solidify his position as the Championship leader coming to the Playoffs.
For Lasse Sørensen, the word “impressive” would be an understatement to sum up his season so far. In six races, he has finished in the podium in all six of them and in four of those six races, he was the winner. As a result, despite missing the first two races of the season at Valencia, Sørensen has already climbed up to fourth in the Championship with 233 points on his name, only two points behind Advait Deodhar in third and 38 points behind Championship leader Maggi.
With Deodhar being forced to skip the round at Venray due to a lack of funding, Sørensen will be aiming to continue his podium streak and grab third place in the Championship in his first oval race of his career.
Sørensen’s teammate Justin Kunz has enjoyed a quietly impressive season so far. After eight races, he has scored 2 Top 5 finishes and four more Top 10 finishes to put himself tied in points with Myatt Snider. Kunz has been steadily improving in the oval tracks as years gone by, as he went from having an average finish of 13 in the three oval races that he took part in 2016, to a double Top 10 finish at Venray in 2017 before scoring his first Euro Series podium on Race 1 at Tours last year. With Dexwet-DF1 having proven that they have a race-winning car in the Elite 2 class, expect Kunz to be able to compete for the win this weekend.
Nicholas Risitano has also enjoyed a pretty good season so far, with the 30-year old Italian having scored a victory at Valencia earlier in the year. Coming off from a good weekend at Most where he scored a double Top 10 finish and barely missed the podium on Race 2, Risitano will be hoping that he can maintain the pace that he has at Most for the only oval race of the season.
Risitano’s first oval outing at Tours last year proved to be a good one for him as he scored his second Euro Series podium finish on the second race of Tours, and he will be hoping that his past oval experience can give him the extra edge that he needed to score his second victory of the season.
For Pierluigi Veronesi, the weekend at Most proved to be a disastrous one for him. Veronesi has now dropped five places in the Championship due to being forced to retire in Race 1 and getting involved in Ben Creanor’s tangle with Michael Bleekemolen in Race 2. Veronesi’s first oval outing at Tours last year is a memorable one for him as he finished in sixth and grabbed the bonus Championship points for the most positions gained in Race 1.
Now with the No. 27 team being part of CAAL Racing, he will be hoping that CAAL’s support can give his Mustang a boost of performance that he needed to build a good momentum for the Playoffs.
There has been plenty of changes in the Entry List for the Elite 2 race Venray. Seven drivers who participated at Most will be absent as Advait Deodhar, Alessandro Brigatti, Ben Creanor, Arianna Casoli, Thomas Krasonis, Florian Venturi, and Eric Clément will not race this week due to various reasons.
Deodhar, Creanor, and Casoli will not race after funding issues meant that they weren’t able to secure enough funding to race at Venray. Krasonis will not race after Alex Caffi Motorsport opted to enter just the No. 2 car for Venray, while Brigatti will be absent as Racers Motorsport have decided to put Simone Laureti in the No. 9 Mustang for this weekend.
Venturi will not race as he still hasn’t found a replacement team after he left Go Fas Racing at Most. As for Clément, his reason of absence is currently unknown as of the writing of this article.
Cycling legend Niels Albert is scheduled to make his Euro Series debut this weekend. As with what was announced by PK Carsport in the pre-season, Albert will be driving the No. 11 Projob Camaro for Venray, replacing Vittorio Ghirelli who drove for the No. 11 team at Most. Ghirelli will be transferred to the No. 24 PK Carsport team for Venray, leaving Andre Castro to be transferred to Marko Stipp Motorsport’s No. 46 team for this weekend.
The driver with the most starts in the Elite 2 class, Jerry de Weerdt, returns to compete this week after Braxx Racing opted to skip Most while Simone Laureti – the previous record holder for the most starts in Elite 2 – returns to Elite 2 for the first time since the season finale of 2018 at Zolder. Laureti will once again partner Gianmarco Ercoli in the No. 9 Racers team for Venray.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will hit the track for Round 9 of the 2019 season on 13 July, with the 70-lap Elite 2 race is scheduled to go green at 15:30 CEST. All races for this season are going to be aired live on FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.