TOURS, France – Ander Vilarino added another jewel to his crown on Saturday by winning the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Knauf 75 at Tours Speedway.
The Spaniard overtook last year’s winner Frederic Gabillon with 15 laps to go in the 75-lap race on the French short-track and held on in a green-white-checkered finish to take his first win ever on an oval.
It’s his third win of the season and the 16th of Vilarino’s NASCAR career.
“This win is special because it came on an oval and NASCAR means oval racing all over the world, I feel like a Sprint Cup Series Champion winning his first Daytona 500,” said Vilarino, who was second at Tours in 2012. “Fred is a very clean driver, he never closed the door on me, even while I was attacking him for the lead. I feel really good competing with him.”
Gabillon overtook polesitter Eddie Cheever III and gained a little advantage on the Italian in the initial long green-flag run. On Lap 34, contact on the frontstretch led to the first of thre yellow flags of the race. The incident resulted in some damage to the front of the No. 12 Chevrolet Camaro, but Gabillon kept the lead on restart ahead of Vilarino, who took advantage of the double-file restart to pass Cheever and start to chase down the leader.
“I saw two cars touching in front of me,” said Gabillon. “We all tried to slow down but I was touched from behind and I hit the car ahead, damaging the front right side of the car.”
Vilarino crossed the finish line ahead of Cheever and Gabillon, while Mathias Lauda brought home a solid fourth place finish, ahead of Freddy Nordström and the Belgian duo of Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen.
Borja Garcia and Nicolò Rocca both climbed nine positions and finished eighth and 10th. Between the two, 2013 ELITE 2 division champion Anthony Gandon came in ninth.