DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s a whole different racing game, and reigning NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Anthony Kumpen is about to get another spin.
Kumpen, who made his U.S. NASCAR debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this past February at New Smyrna Speedway, will embark on a string of four more U.S. races beginning Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the K&N Pro Series East United Services 70.
His schedule is part of Nexteer’s “Road To Daytona” program, a NASCAR Whelen Euro Series partnership with Nexteer giving top Whelen Euro Series drivers the opportunity to showcase their talent on foreign ground. Making his second K&N start Friday, Kumpen said he is eager to get back to the states and race.
“When I came to Florida in February, I was surprised by the level of competitiveness in the K&N Series,” Kumpen said via phone from his Belgium home Monday. “The teams and drivers are very professional. Although I’ve been racing for 20 years, I have very little oval experience – these young drivers have way more than me.”
Oval experience is precisely what he hopes to gain from racing in the U.S. Racing solely on half-mile ovals up to this point, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be Kumpen’s first full-mile oval race. Since his February debut, the Belgian driver said he has made a point to compete on more European oval tracks in preparation for this weekend’s event.
“This extra oval experience should help me in New Hampshire,” Kumpen said. “My goal is to have a top-10 finish.”
After Friday’s race, Kumpen is slated for three upcoming NASCAR XFINITY Series races – Aug. 1 at Iowa Speedway, Nov. 14 at Phoenix International Speedway and Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“What I can tell from the XFINITY teams and cars is that the level of racing is a big step up from the K&N Pro Series,” Kumpen said. “It feels a bit unreal to be part of this high level of NASCAR racing. About a year ago, I did my first NASCAR race in Europe, winning the championship at the end of the year. And now I will be racing in XFINITY. I’m very excited to be competing at this level.”
Currently ranked sixth in NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series standings, Kumpen has captured one win, five top-fives and six top-10s in 2015. But he can’t help but feel his performance to date has clear room for improvement, due in part to some early-season slip-ups and flukes on the track.
“My NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season has been okay, but it could have been a lot better,” Kumpen said. “I had some technical issues and bad luck while I was battling for some wins. But I feel confident for the second part of our season, and I’m sure I can fight for more victories and for the championship.”
Friday’s NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East race is scheduled for a 6 p.m. green flag, and NASCARHomeTracks.com will provide live updates of practice, qualifying, and the race. The United Services 70 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m. ET.
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