NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ most successful driver Ander Vilariño will not be competing for a possible fourth Euro Series title this year as DF1 Racing recently announced that the Spaniard will be withdrawing his 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series entry due to family and business concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After publishing the new 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series schedule, where the dates are completely different from the usual calendar, Ander Vilariño contacted the team principal, with the information that he has serious issues to run the full season,” said DF1 Racing in the team’s official statement.

“Due to the COVID-19 situation and to minimum his own and his family risk, Ander Vilariño has decided not to take an airplane in the coming months. As an owner of a business company it is not feasible for him to be away from home for 6 or 7 almost complete weeks or more – plus testing days.”

DF1 Racing states that the team understands the situation that Vilariño is facing right now and has announced that Vilariño will be returning to DF1’s No. 22 Chevrolet Camaro for the 2021 season.

Despite this, Vilariño has not ruled out the possibility of making a wildcard appearance at Valencia, which in the rescheduled calendar is now scheduled to be held on 5-6 December as the tentative final round of the 2020 season.

“We will miss Ander Vilariño as a person and of course as one of our ‘spearheads’ in the championship, but life has to be first priority,” said Norbert Walchhofer in DF1’s official team statement. “I am sure he will fight again for the EuroNASCAR PRO championship in 2021 and I hope Ander has time this year to come to our testing days and stay with the team at least at his home race in Valencia on 5th and 6th of December 2020 in one of our DF1 NASCAR cars.”

Vilariño joined DF1 Racing earlier this January after he made his return to the series in 2019 after a three-year absence. Racing for Racing Engineering in the No. 48 Ford Mustang, Vilarino scored a double race win in his home race at Valencia and he went on to finish 5th in the overall standings on his first full-season campaign in the series since 2015.

“COVID-19 has a tremendous impact in the region, where I live in Spain and I have to concentrate on my family and my business, although in my heart I am still a racing driver,” said Vilariño in the team statement. “I thank the team for understanding my situation and for giving me free time in 2020 and I am also happy being back in 2021 with DF1 Racing. But I will continue to train and if the opportunity arises to race in Valencia or somewhere else in a 2 to 3 days basis I will take this opportunity to keep in shape for the next season.”

Vilariño’s announcement marked the first case in the Euro Series where a planned entrant was forced to downscale and/or withdrawn their entries in the 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, several ARCA teams such as Chad Bryant Racing and Rette Jones Racing was forced to downscale their plans to compete the full ARCA Menards Series East season as a result of the pandemic.  

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.

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