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There will be a legendary new driver on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series grid on June 10-11, when the European NASCAR Series will stop at Brands Hatch for the second event of the 2017 season: NASCAR Champion Bobby Labonte will make his debut at the wheel of the #1 Whelen Engineering Ford Mustang fielded by Alex Caffi Motorsport.
Labonte’s debut will mark the first time a Monster Energy Cup Series Champion races in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, further underlining the strong ties between the Euro NASCAR and the American NASCAR and the continuous exchange of drivers between the two continents. It will also be Labonte’s first race outside North America.
“I am really excited to join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in Brands Hatch. It is a great opportunity. With Jerome Galpin (NWES President / CEO) and Joe Balash (NASCAR International Liaison) we talked about it during the winter and when they called me for this race I was more than happy to jump onboard,” said Labonte. “The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is very successful and I really love the fact that NASCAR is present in many different countries. I think the Euro Series is a really good environment both to develop a NASCAR career and race at very competitive level with low costs. It will be fun to be able to get in a Euro NASCAR car and go race at such a famous race track.”
A Corpus Christi, Texas native, Bobby Labonte sits among the legends of the sport thanks to the 2000 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title – a season in which he beat, among the other, Dale Earnhardt, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon – and the 1991 NASCAR Xfinity Series title, the first driver in NASCAR history to win both championships. With 21 wins and 203 top-10s in the top NASCAR Series, Labonte has conquered many of the crown jewels in the Cup schedule, like the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Southern 500 at Darlington. Since 2017, he also figures among the NASCAR Hall Of Fame candidates.
“This is a great honor for every people involved in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to welcome such a great Champion to race with us ! This shows the top international level the series is reaching. We have drivers coming from all over the world to compete in NASCAR in Europe and our goal is to keep attracting the best of the best to offer the best races to the European fans,” said NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President / CEO Jerome Galpin.
Labonte is the latest of a long list of American NASCAR stars that crossed the ocean to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. In its young history, NWES hosted star drivers like Ben Kennedy, who won his first NASCAR race in NWES in 2012, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Max Papis, Rick Crawford and Brandon Gdovic. The latest and greatest star to visit the European NASCAR Series was Jeff Gordon, who served as Grand Marshal for the 2016 Zolder Finals.
Many NWES stars, including Anthony Kumpen, Alon Day, Frederic Gabillon and Stienes Longin, went the opposite way, the latest being 2016 Euro NASCAR Champion, who competed for the second consecutive time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at the Daytona International Speedway earlier this year.
Always one of the most popular events in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar, the American SpeedFest reached its fifth edition and will take place on the historic Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on June 10-11. All the races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv and on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Facebook page.