A powerhouse of Scandinavia racing, Memphis Racing is competing in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series since the 2018 season. After a successful first campaign – Alexander Graff was ninth in the ELITE 1 Division and Guillaume Deflandre was fourth in the ELITE 2 Division – the Swedish team expanded to two cars for 2019.
While Graff drives the #77 Chevrolet Camaro in the ELITE 1 Division, rookie Freddie Hemborg took the wheel in the ELITE 2 Division, making it an all-Swedish race car. On the other hand the team’s second car, the #23 Chevrolet Camaro, is all-Finnish with Challenger Trophy leader Henri Tuomaala at the wheel in the ELITE 1 Division and Ian Eric Waden in the ELITE 2 Division.
Sitting seventh in points, Alexander Graff is constantly fighting for a top-5 spot in the overall standings and thinks that finding more speed in qualifying will be a key to the team’s further progress.
“Our development in race pace has been really good this year, but our qualifying pace should have been better! If we can improve that, then I would be more satisfied,” said the 32-year-old. “I think the competition is even harder this year and that our development program granted us some really good results. Having our drivers in the top-10 and in the top-15 is definitely not easy! There are some really strong racers out there.”
“We brought home wins in the Challenger Trophy and the Legend Trophy with our two drivers, and we are in the top-10 in both divisions so I think we have done a good job. But as a team and racers we will always work together to get better and stronger – so for now we are satisfied, but we want more!”
Graff set some precise goals for the future: “Of course we want a podium! The race pace that I mentioned before has been my strength this year, but qualifying pace is still bad for us! So more improvements there and we are in the game – a top-5 finish in the standings would be nice and of course I want to be even stronger in 2020.”
Freddie Hemborg is having a solid debut season in the ELITE 2 Division, having collected one top-5 and three top-10 finishes so far. The 33-year old driver scored his best finish in the second race of the season opener at Valencia by ending up fourth overall.
“Euro NASCAR is a really great and fun series,” said Hemborg. “I can improve here as a driver and race at a very high level. There are drivers with diverse backgrounds, like NASCAR, Formula One, touring cars and GT cars. We have a large grid, tight competition and exciting battles during the races. How could you wish for more?”
Hemborg knows Graff from his time in the Swedish Thundercar Championship and decided to follow him in NWES. The Östersund-native hoped for a smoother transition, but he’s adapting quickly to the new environment: “The level in the ELITE 2 Division increased a lot this year. We’ve seen that the top-10 of the ELITE 2 Division are almost as fast as the ELITE 1 Division drivers. I’m satisfied with my performance: I made just a few mistakes and drove the car in a safe way. I just hoped to be a little bit better placed in the overall standings.”
For the playoffs Hemborg has the goal to improve race by race and to climb up the ranks. “I have to drive smart and finish all races, as there are double points on the line,” said the rookie. “In 2018 the team had strong cars at Hockenheim and Zolder and we hope to confirm that in 2019. My goal is to finish inside the top-5. We’ve been told we are the crazy Swedes, so everything can happen.”
Asked for the secret of Memphis Racing’s success, Hemborg answered: “We have a lot of fun during the race weekends and at home. We have close relationships in our small team and it’s fun to grow together race by race. I’m at Memphis Racing since 2014 and we worked to get stronger year after year. We have great drivers and awesome mechanics. In the last two years we also invested in the shop to be more competitive.”
In the ELITE 2 Division Hemborg is joined by team mate Ian Eric Waden, who is twelfth in the overall standings. His team mate is fighting for the Legend Trophy win. Waden is just eleven points short of Michael Bleekemolen who’s leading the classification for ELITE 2 drivers aged 40 and older.
Memphis Racing will be back in action on September 21-22 at the legendary Hockenheimring. Rounds 10 & 11 constitute the first leg of the 2019 NWES playoffs and double points are awarded at each race. The season final will take place two weeks later on October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder in Belgium.