VENRAY, Netherlands – A determined and yet emotional Nicolò Rocca scored his maiden NASCAR victory in the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 race at Raceway Venray on Saturday.
After posting his second consecutive pole position of 2015, the Italian surrendered the lead to Anthony Kumpen at the start. The pair got away from the pack, but the Belgian got collected by the spinning car of Hugo Bec, leading to the only yellow flag of the race on lap 24. Simone Monforte was also involved in the contact.
Rocca inherited the lead and held off Frederic Gabillon on restart, leading the remaining laps in dominant fashion to notch his first win in 25 starts.
“The car was amazing. I want to thank all the CAAL Racing team, they did an amazing job. From the beginning I felt well the car, I didn’t expect anything like that. It’s the perfect day,” said Rocca, who will start from the pole Sunday for the second race of the weekend thanks to the fastest lap in the race. “Pole position, fastest lap to start in front tomorrow and my first victory in NASCAR. It’s crazy. Tomorrow we will try to fight for the win again, but it will not be easy.”
Behind Rocca, Gabillon led a tight group that delighted the fans with a thrilling race. Romain Iannetta came from 12th on the grid to third with a series of bold moves in the last 20 laps, edging under the checkered flag ahead of Philipp Lietz, who also took the Challenger Trophy classification, Bert Longin and Eddie Cheever III.
“We weren’t as fast as Nicolò and Anthony, but we scored good points today and this a good day for the No. 3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang,” said Gabillon. “We will keep working to improve for tomorrow and try to battle for the win.”