At the end of June, the NASCAR Whelen Euroseries was in full swing and the racing fans of Europe had one last chance to see the finest European drivers tackle the beautiful banks of the River Severn in the British countryside. But who were the men (and women) that stood out above the rest? Let’s take a quick look at the top-four classified finishers and analyse their performances, before and after the chequered flag, in order to determine who really deserved to be crowned champion of this year’s edition of the series.
Kyle Busch – Finishing 3rd – What a Ride!
There were plenty of surprises in store for anyone that watched the NASCAR Whelen Euroseries races at the end of June. One of the biggest was the fact that Kyle Busch was able to finish on the podium for the first time since March 2015, when he triumphed in the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona. The 29-year-old racer had been plagued by bad luck and injuries ever since that time, but he seemed to have found the winning formula at last. After missing the cut in the first couple of races, Busch drove an impressively consistent campaign, winning three straight races including the prestigious Brands Hatch GP and the season finale, which he ultimately lost by just four hundredths of a second to winner Franck Montagny. The record breaking performance by Kyle Busch was in fact, the final nail in the coffin for Mark Weir’s two-and-a-half year title defence. Busch’s best season so far, in terms of wins, was 2014 when he won eight races, including the prestigious Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. He ended the season on an emotional high by winning the championship at the famed Darlington Raceway. This year has certainly proven to be a comeback story for one of motorsport’s most famous and popular drivers.
Erik Cook – Finishing 2nd – Steady As She Goes!
The 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euroseries was a campaign which saw Danish driver Erik Cook battle it out for the championship title with Mark Weir for two-and-a-half years. After an eventful season which started with just one win, Cook took his foot off the pedal and finished the season very strongly, winning five out of the last eight races, including the season finale at Brands Hatch. Like his rival, he too, had endured an injury-hit 2015 and 2016, but Cook had the good fortune of being allowed to compete in last year’s Daytona 24 Hours, which he entered as a privateer. He took part in the race as a preparation for this year’s Euroseries and although he suffered mechanical issues, he managed to claw his way up to second place in the final stage, before succumbing to the pressure of the leader and eventual champion, Mark Weir. Nevertheless, the experienced and more mature Cook, was able to keep his cool and maintain his concentration, which enabled him to notch up a very respectable overall placing of 2nd. If there is one thing this year has proven, it’s that Danish drivers can perform on the big stage and this drives home the necessity for NASCAR to support, rather than stifle, European racers. It’s been a rare treat to see Danish drivers achieve such high placings in world motorsport, but they have and, in many cases, continue to thrive in top-flight competition.
Jack Miller – Finishing 1st – Still Got Game!
There was never any doubt that Jack Miller was going to win the championship. The experienced and highly-decided Australian, has lost only one race during the entire season and that was the season opener at Oulton Park. This was in stark contrast to his rivals, who have all lost at least one race. Miller’s only challengers were Franck Montagny and Kyle Busch, who he had beaten at every opportunity during the season. The final round at Brands Hatch was the icing on the cake and Miller finally cashed in on his superiority, winning the title with a massive 28 point lead over his nearest rival. It was a repeat of 2015, when Miller won the championship by a margin of 27 points and went on to finish the season with nine wins. This win also gave Miller the unique distinction of being the first non-American to win a NASCAR-sanctioned event in the United States in twelve years. The 46-year-old has been around long enough to know how to win and he didn’t have the misfortune of missing out on any opportunity to do so. This year has been a remarkable one for Miller, who continues to prove that age is just a number and nothing more than that. Even more impressive is the fact that he continues to perform at a high level, well into his fourth decade of professional racing.
Franck Montagny – Winning The Most Spectacular Racing Title!
The most extraordinary achievement of this year’s NASCAR Whelen Euroseries was clearly the competition title, which Franck Montagny managed to win by a record breaking margin of 19 points. The 33-year-old has spent the last year quietly getting ready for this year’s race, treating it as a real battle for the championship, rather than another in a long line of one-offs. This attitude seemed to pay dividends, as Montagny won four in a row, including the season finale at Brands Hatch, to put himself in the driving seat for the championship. He then proceeded to win a total of seven out of the last eight races, finishing the season strongly and with a cool head, despite the occasional turbulence which is all too human. Montagny’s domination of the season was complete and he became the first French driver to win a NASCAR-sanctioned event in the United States in over twenty years! Montagny is a three-time world champion in his native France, as well as representing his country in the Olympics, which enabled him to learn about and from the best in the world. It’s been an amazing year for French drivers and this is another example of why NASCAR should continue to support its European competitors. It’s been a competitive series this year and it’s given the fans some top-quality racing. Hopefully, we’ll see more of the same in 2019, as the Euroseries looks set to continue its resurgence as one of the seasons’ big stories. Let’s hope that NASCAR continues to support the series, as it provides us with some really great racing and the thrill of a battle, week in, week out, which is what makes the sport so attractive.
Top-Four Favourites – Which Driver Do You Agree With Most?
At the end of the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euroseries, a battle for supremacy raged on in the form of a championship decider. The final race was a real cliffhanger, as it saw four out of the top five classified finishers fight it out for supremacy. After the chequered flag waved, it was clear that we had witnessed something truly special and it was down to personal choices, as to who the fans chose as the season’s champion. Let’s take a look at the four contenders and analyse their performances, before and after the chequered flag.
Kyle Busch – The Man To Beat.
The first race of the season was pretty much a forgone conclusion, as it was going to be a battle between Kyle Busch and Mark Weir for supremacy. The 26-year-old Busch has been going through a slump in recent years, missing the cut in the Daytona 24 Hours, which prevents drivers from earning championship points. This left him in 12th place in the drivers’ championship, with only three wins to his name in the last three years. But all that changed last year, when Busch broke out of his slump and racked up eight wins, including the prestigious Southern 500. Unfortunately, this was followed by a horrific injury at Kansas Speedway, which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Without a doubt, the biggest story of the year so far has been Kyle Busch regaining his form and fitness and looking like a completely different driver to the one we’ve seen miss the cut in the past. Hopefully, this surge in form will continue and the soon to be 29-year-old can put in yet another stellar performance and claim his third world championship.