Jul 11, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
This story didn’t make big news on this side of the pond, so to speak, so we’re just learning about it now.
But make no mistake about it: the ramifications could spell potential major changes on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit in the future.
In an ironic twist of fate, hours before NASCAR called last Sunday’s rain-postponed (from last Saturday night) Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the first-ever NASCAR series oval race was contested under what was described as “torrential rain” at Tours Speedway in Tours, France.
In other words, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race went the full distance under the wet stuff, unlike the Sprint Cup race in Daytona, which was cut short 48 laps from the scheduled distance due to rain.
According to sanctioning body officials, this is the first time a NASCAR-sanctioned paved oval track race – on any level – has ever been run and completed in rain.
And in almost storybook fashion, Mathias Lauda – son of three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda – took the checkered flag in a Chevrolet SS.
“I’m very happy for my first win in NASCAR,” Lauda said, according to a Whelan Euro Series media release.
It wasn’t easy for the younger Lauda. With 10 laps left in the “Michelin 75″ race, he was forced to twice pass on the outside – not the best of places to do so given the conditions – but his car held true and won by a thin margin of 0.677 seconds.
“I felt good in the rain and I got more and more confident,” Lauda said in a Michelin media release. “I tried to save my tires in the first half of the race, which was a good decision because when I moved to the outside at the end I realized at once that I was faster than the guys ahead of me.”
Lauda beat points leader Ander Vilarino to the checkered flag. And with the win, Lauda moved up from fifth to third place in the Euro Series standings, just 21 points behind Vilarino.
Up to last Sunday’s race at Tours, only the NASCAR Nationwide Series had contested three races in rain, twice in Montreal and the most recent last month at Road America in Wisconsin, won by Brendan Gaughan.
Check out the video interview with Lauda and Vilarino, followed by a highlight reel of the rainy race:
Michelin officials bragged about the feat with a press release issued Friday, calling it a “landmark victory” in “torrential rain” on the half-mile paved Tours oval.
Phillippe Mussati, manager of Michelin’s customer competition programs, was obviously rather proud of both Lauda and the job the Michelin tires on his race car did.
“The win of Mathias Lauda and his team DF1 Racing by 66 was an historic one for a number of reasons,” Mussati said. “In addition to the victory itself, his Michelin P2E tires fulfilled their mission to the letter and contributed to some outstanding lap times. In the rain, the fastest laps on these tires were only 1.5 seconds short of the fastest laps posted in the dry.”
The Whelen Euro Series concludes its regular season at Germany’s famed Nurburgring on July 19-20.
The series’ playoffs begin on Sept. 20-21 at Italy’s Autodromo dell’Umbria di Magione.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Jul 25, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Baku set to host a street race from 2016.
Jul 25, 2014, 10:18 AM EDT
The Sprint Cup regular topped out with a lap of 181.043 mph on his 12th and final lap of the session.
Jul 25, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Mercedes driver confirms that talks about a new deal have not yet begun, but suggests that it is merely a formality.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT
The Briton continues to dominate at the Hungaroring with his teammate in tow.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
News and interviews from around the F1 paddock ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix – it’s the latest edition of the NBC Sports Original Digital Series “Paddock Pass.”
Jul 25, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT
Can Hamilton double up in FP2 at the Hungaroring?
Jul 25, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT
Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez delighted by the news, calling it a “dream come true”.
Jul 25, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT
First run-out for Marussia will come at Spa; set for Austin in November.
Jul 25, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
The final race before the summer break in F1 highlights a jam-packed weekend of motorsport across the NBC Sports Group network.
Jul 25, 2014, 5:31 AM EDT
Another one-two for Mercedes during first practice, with Hamilton leading Rosberg.
Jul 25, 2014, 3:45 AM EDT
The first chance for teams to get in some running at the Hungaroring comes this morning at 4am ET.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT
On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Jeff Burton joined the crew to discuss what makes racing in the Brickyard 400 unique. Burton says NASCAR is a guest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the history IndyCar has made at the track.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA and in preparation for this week’s Brickyard 400, Leigh Diffey talked with 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. on what it was like to win the third closest finish in race history. Hornish also discussed some of the keys that drivers will need to succeed at the Brickyard 400.
Jul 24, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT
After two years of huge success with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing at his Eldora Speedway, Tony Stewart would love to eventually see the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series come to his little half-mile track, as well.
Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
On Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA, Leigh Diffey is the in-studio host and is joined by Sam Hornish Jr. (2006 Indy 500 winner and current Nationwide Series driver and winner of the 2014 Iowa Nationwide race).
Jul 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Indy Racing Experience has partnered with Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to enhance two wishes during the Kroger Brickyard Super Weekend that takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 24-27, 2014.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Ryan Hunter-Reay earns another award after his Indianapolis 500 win.
Jul 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric to race a GTS Ford Mustang Boss for charity at Mid-Ohio weekend.
Jul 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Sauber driver pleased with his pace in Germany, and cares little for the question marks about his future.
- Hamilton tops second practice in Hungary ahead of Rosberg 0
- F1 Paddock Pass: Hungarian Grand Prix (VIDEO) 0
- Hungarian GP highlights 30+ hours of motorsports coverage across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC this weekend 0
- Hamilton quickest in first practice for Hungarian GP 0
- Report: Deal for Marcos Ambrose’ return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske may be close 7