Lasse Sørensen completes the story of one of the most dominant seasons in NASCAR history as he claims his seventh victory of the season in Sunday’s Elite 2 race at Circuit Zolder to be crowned the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Elite 2 Champion.
The championship-deciding race yesterday proved to be an intense one as both championship contenders are starting on the front row of the grid and with only one point separating Maggi and Sørensen in the championship, Sørensen – who started on pole position for the first time in his career – had to finish the race ahead of Giorgio Maggi to be able to win the title.
The race itself started under the Safety Car as rain was pouring down throughout the day at Zolder. When the race finally got underway under green flag conditions on Lap 5, it didn’t take long for the Safety Car to be called again after Naveh Talor and Michael Bleekemolen collided on Turn 3 after just two laps of green flag racing.
When the race got restarted for the final time with 6 laps to go, Sørensen had to held off a relentless charge from Giorgio Maggi for the remainder of the race and despite Maggi trying his best to overtake Sørensen’s No. 66 Camaro, Sørensen ultimately was able to hold on to the lead to claim both the race win and the Elite 2 title. Maggi would finish in 2nd place while Alessandro Brigatti finished off his rookie season with the second podium finish of his Euro Series career.
“I can’t really believe it at the moment,” said Sørensen to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “I didn’t think I really realized it yet, but I’m super happy for the whole team and for all the sponsors that made this possible for me. I know they’re sitting back in Denmark and cheered me all the way throughout the weekend, so I’m just super happy I was able to give them something back now and thanks for the whole team.”
“It’s a real shame because it was a really short race, since we did several laps behind the safety car,” said Maggi to euronascar.com post-race. “I just went out of laps in the end. I was preparing for the last lap and I braked very late but it didn’t work. My plan for next year is for sure to step up in the ELITE 1 Division and fight for the title over there.”
A fourth-place finish in Sunday’s race was enough for Vittorio Ghirelli to claim third place in the Elite 2 championship. Myatt Snider closes off his Euro Series campaign on a high note with his fourth Top 5 finish of the season in 5th place, while Advait Deodhar secured 4th place in the championship with a 6th place finish in the race.
Nicholas Risitano finished the race in 7th ahead of Pol van Pollaert, who scored his first career Top 10 finish in 8th place after he narrowly missed out on a Top 10 finish in his very first race at Hockenheim two weeks ago. Pierluigi Veronesi finishes in 9th place to secure his 9th Top 10 finish of the season, while Jesse Vartiainen completes the Top 10 to cap off a very impressive Playoff performance for the Finnish driver.
Justin Kunz, Martin Doubek, and Freddie Hemborg finished in 11th, 12th, and 13th respectively as Ben Creanor brings home the extra championship points for the most positions gained during the race after the 16-year old Scotsman moved up 8 places to finish in 14th place after he was forced to start from 22nd and last on the grid due to not starting yesterday’s race.
Bleekemolen’s early incident played things perfectly in the hands of Ian Eric Wadén, as his 15th place finish was enough for him to grab the Legend Trophy title. Wadén and Bleekemolen finished tied on points in the standings, but Wadén would claim the Legend Trophy victory by virtue of having scored more Legend Trophy victories throughout the season – 7 compared to Bleekemolen’s 3, despite Bleekmolen finishing ahead in the overall standings due to a better best finishing result for the 70-year old Dutchman.
“It was a really exciting weekend with all the ups and downs we have so far with the broken car,” said Wadén in the post-race interview. “It’s still broken, but we were able to make the race. I thought I already lost it by going out in the first corner but I came back, I raced today and at the podium they told me I got the championship, so I can’t be more happy with this season at the moment.”
Niels Albert survived the treacherous conditions at Zolder to finish in 16th place ahead of Arianna Casoli, who claimed the Lady Trophy honors by default as she’s the only driver eligible for the Lady Trophy classification to run the full-season. Matthias Hauer completes the Legend Trophy podium in 18th place ahead of Talor and Bleekemolen, who had to finish a lap down in 19th and 20th place respectively.
Hugo de Sadeleer was the only retirement of the race after he was forced to retire from the race in the pits on Lap 11 after he received substantial collision damage to his No. 88 Ford Mustang during the race. Sven van Laere was forced to not start the race due to a suspected engine issue on the No. 78 Anecars Ford Mustang.
FULL RACE RESULTS
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Lasse Sørensen (66)||15||37:33.368|
|2.||2||Giorgio Maggi (50)||15||+ 1.445|
|3.||3||Alessandro Brigatti (9)||15||+ 3.158|
|4.||4||Vittorio Ghirelli (24)||15||+ 3.260|
|5.||10||Myatt Snider (48)||15||+ 9.529|
|6.||6||Advait Deodhar (31)||15||+ 18.201|
|7.||8||Nicholas Risitano (8)||15||+ 25.595|
|8.||15||Pol van Pollaert (98)||15||+ 37.026|
|9.||14||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||15||+ 28.027|
|10.||17||Jesse Vartiainen (2)||15||+ 29.506|
|11.||5||Justin Kunz (99)||15||+ 31.534|
|12.||7||Martin Doubek (7)||15||+ 33.667|
|13.||11||Freddie Hemborg (77)||15||+ 34.046|
|14.||22||Ben Creanor (33)||15||+ 34.596|
|15.||16||Ian Eric Wadén (23)||15||+ 52.184|
|16.||18||Niels Albert (11)||15||+ 1:30.058|
|17.||19||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 1:30.376|
|18.||20||Matthias Hauer (64)||15||+ 1:33.368|
|19.||13||Naveh Talor (12)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|20.||12||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|21.||9||Hugo de Sadeleer (88)||11||DNF (Collision Damage)|
|22.||21||Sven van Laere (78)||0||DNS (Engine)|
In the final Championship standings, Sørensen would claim the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Elite 2 Championship title with 573 points, 9 points ahead of Giorgio Maggi.
Sørensen’s season is statistically among one of the most dominating seasons in NASCAR history: A total 7 race wins in 11 starts gives him a win percentage of 63.64% and with an average finish of 1.91, it is one of, if not the best average finish for a NASCAR champion in their championship-winning season.
Vittorio Ghirelli finished his rookie season in 3rd with 488 points, while Advait Deodhar secures a brilliant 4th place in his first full season in the Elite 2 championship despite funding issues forced the London-based Indian driver to drive for three teams this season. Nicholas Risitano edges Myatt Snider for 5th place in the championship by 4 points, while Pierluigi Veronesi finished in 7th with 457 points after he sat as high as 3rd place in the early parts of the season.
Martin Doubek is in 8th with 409 points despite having to miss two races due to an injury, while Justin Kunz’s disappointing Playoffs run would drop him down to 9th place in the Championship. On the other hand, the impressive Playoffs run by Vartiainen and Brigatti would secure them 10th and 11th place in the 2019 Elite 2 Championship.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.