Since last weekend’s NASCAR GP Croatia, three-time champion Ander Vilarino and two-time champion Alon Day sit together atop the list of the all-time NWES winners. Together they have won a total of 44 races – 22 each – out of the 103 EuroNASCAR PRO races held in 9 years of pure racing in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Vilarino was the first driver to reach this number in five years of racing in the series, Alon Day tied the all-time record at Automotodrom Grobnik in 2020, but what is the timeline of these two exceptional drivers’ milestones?
The first win
Ander Vilarino grabbed his first win in the very first round of the series under the NASCAR banner in 2012, at Nogaro, France. Driving for TFT, the Spaniard started from pole position and led 5 laps on a wet track crossing the finish line ahead of Romain Thievin.
Alon Day scored the first NWES win of his career in Magione, Italy, in 2015 in what was the Israeli’s ninth NASCAR race. Day led all 25 laps from the pole on the CAAL Racing Chevy and was first under the checkered flag. In that race he beat Vilarino, who finished second.
Win number 10
Day’s career win number 10 came in 2017 at Zolder, a place where the Israeli won no less than six times in his career. Day edged a charging Marc Goossens and crowned himself a NASCAR Champion for the first time.
For Vilarino, the 10-win milestone came in France in the second event of the 2013 season at the historic track of Dijon. On the circuit that hosted the legendary battle between Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve in Formula 1, Vilarino claimed his fourth consecutive win of the season ahead of Fred Gabillon.
Win number 20
Vilarino grabbed his 20th checkered flag in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series during his 2015 campaign, the final one with TFT and the one that granted him his third championship ring. It was June 28th and at Tours Speedway the Hondarribia native once again beat arch-rival Frederic Gabillon to the line.
Brands Hatch was the stage of Day’s 20th career NWES win in June of 2019. The Israeli passed Stienes Longin at the end of a fierce battle to win for the third time at the iconic British track. Day was also crowned the King of Brands Hatch.
Championship winning seasons
With his three NWES championship rings, Ander Vilarino leads the NWES all-time list ahead of Alon Day, Anthony Kumpen – the Israeli and the Belgian both won two titles – and Loris Hezemans.
After dominating in 2012 and 2013 – his 2013 winning streak of six consecutive races holds a place in NASCAR history – and losing by a single point to Kumpen in 2014, the following season Vilarino claimed three wins and his third title before temporarily leaving the series. Day has been the ideal heir to the NWES throne since then, winning the championship twice, finishing out of the top-3 in points only once in 2019 and never winning less than 3 races per season with a best score of 7 wins in 2018.
The latest win: number 22
Day and Vilarino met again on track in 2019. The Spaniard returned to NWES with Racing Engineering and won his 21st and 22nd career races at his home track of Valencia, a place where he grabbed the checkered flag six times in total. After that opening weekend, Vilarino went winless, while Day won thrice, moving within two wins from Vilarino’s record before leaving CAAL Racing.
The battle between the two winningest drivers in NWES history was set to resume in 2020 with Vilarino driving for DF1 Racing and Day piloting the #24 Camaro for his arch-rival Anthony Kumpen’s PK Carsport team, but Vilarino had to skip the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So it was Day who grabbed win number 21 and 22 – he’s the only repeat winner in EuroNASCAR PRO in 2020 – at Zolder and Grobnik, tying Vilarino’s record.
The end of the story has not been written yet, because Vilarino plans to return in 2021 if not earlier and Day is leading the championship, poised to become the first driver to win the title for two different teams. Who will grab the next checkered flag?
Photos by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard / Klemen Sofric