The 2019 season opener at Valencia, back in April, marked a historic winning debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for European top team Racing Engineering. After missing Victory Lane in the rest of the regular season, the Spanish team is sharpening its weapons for the playoffs, looking to regain the edge.
To hit the ground running in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Racing Engineering is relying on two experienced and successful ELITE 1 drivers: three-time champion Ander Vilarino and Romain Iannetta.
With his three titles and 22 wins, Vilarino is the winningest driver in Euro NASCAR history. The Spaniard had a blast of a comeback at his home track of Valencia, winning both races and despite less stellar results from then on, he’s still a title contender entering the playoffs.
"We didn’t expect to win both races in Valencia. With the team we didn’t have any experience with the new NWES cars and there are a lot of teams and drivers who competed regularly in Euro NASCAR in the past few seasons. Being able to win was something extraordinary, but Valencia is my favorite track and I won a lot of races in front of my home crowd there," said Vilarino, who returned to the NWES grid after a three-year hiatus to drive the #48 Racing Engineering Ford.
"After Valencia results were not that solid anymore. Our next good finish was the fourth place in the regular season finale at Raceway Venray. In between we suffered several issues and we didn’t find the right setup. I don’t know why that happened, we still haven’t found out why the car is not fast enough to compete with the top drivers in the ELITE 1 Division."
Beside the two wins in Spain, Vilarino scored one pole position, four top-5 and seven top-10 finishes. He sits fifth in the championship standings, 29 points behind championship leader Stienes Longin but with double points on the line at Hockenheim and Zolder, the Hondarribia native still has plenty of chances to get back on top of the ELITE 1 Division. Vilarino is sure Racing Engineering has all it takes to win the tile already in their debut season.
"These guys are great. Despite the issues we encountered, Racing Engineering is a winning team in NWES. They have everything to win this championship. They have won at the highest level in single seaters and GT, they are used to be perfect. NASCAR cars are special and the whole team is learning race by race. We expected better results after Valencia, but there are still four rounds left in 2019," said the Spaniard.
Romain Iannetta is a NWES veteran with 61 starts in the ELITE 1 Division since 2012. He closed the championship in the top-5 four times and earned 2 wins and 13 podium finishes. After the regular season Iannetta sits sixth in the ELITE 1 Division point standings right behind his teammate Vilarino. The Frenchman secured one podium, one top-5 and six top-10 finishes and his best result was a third place at Autodrom Most.
"We lost some important points in the first two weekends due to some contacts," said the driver of the #88 Mustang. "Afterwards we found the right setup and scored some solid results. But we still have to work hard, because we still miss something to have a winning car. Sixth place ahead of the playoffs is a good foundation and I think the championship is still open. Racing Engineering is a professional team with great engineers. They have been in top international series, so they know what they are doing."
Racing Engineering is also in contention for the ELITE 2 Division title with Myatt Snider at the wheel of the #48 Ford Mustang. The American driver occupies the fourth place in the point standings and has to close a 40-point gap from leader Giorgio Maggi. Snider collected three top-5 and eight top-10 finishes so far.
"I think I’ve done a pretty decent job considering I haven’t ever seen these tracks before and I haven’t driven these cars until this year," said Snider. "Especially considering I was in winning contention in the first two races. The world of Euro NASCAR has been interesting thus far. I have enjoyed visiting all of the coolest places in Europe. And the racing has been hard which is good. And I’ve enjoyed my competition, too. It’s cool to get to race against future Euro NASCAR stars."
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will hit the track again on September 21-22 at the iconic Hockenheimring in Germany. The 2019 NWES Finals are scheduled for October 5-6 at the legendary Circuit Zolder in Belgium.