American NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte will return to full time competition at the age of 53 this season, signing a full time NASCAR Euro Series deal for the year ahead.
Returning to the cockpit of a NASCAR machine for a full season for the first time since 2012, the former winner of no less than 21 top level NASCAR races, including some of the biggest events in the American racing calendar, will spearhead an assault on the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for the French RDV Competition outfit, setting his sights firmly on championship success as he looks to increase an enviable career success rate that spans almost four decades.
“Joining the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is a great opportunity,” said Labonte of the announcement today. “At the Brands Hatch race last year, I was definitely impressed by the competitiveness of the series. The testing we did with Frederic Gabillon last fall and putting this together with Franck Violas and the RDV team gives me a great advantage. Having the opportunity to represent YACCO as a sponsor on a global level just adds to the excitement, and I look forward to all the growth and new opportunities this could bring.”Labonte will be the most experienced and successful driver on the grid in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series when the field forms up for the first time in Valencia next weekend, marking something of a turning point in the history of the series, as both NASCAR and the event organisers look to gain further recognition as a legitimate pathway for Europeans to make the step up to American NASCAR competition:
“It is a huge milestone for the Whelen Euro Series to welcome an American champion of Bobby’s caliber to contend for the title. This is another sign of the international appeal the series has delivered. We are proud to have a strong international lineup of 30 drivers and teams,” declared NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President / CEO Jerome Galpin.
“Having a NASCAR champion like Bobby Labonte compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is a huge win for fans and competitors alike,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief International Officer. “Labonte’s full-time involvement gives American fans an even stronger connection to the series, while offering our European fans a close look at one of NASCAR’s greats.”The 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will take in 12 rounds across six circuits in Spain, Italy, England, France, and Germany, including two standalone oval events at the Tours oval in France, before closing at the beautiful Zolder circuit in Belgium for the Elite final on the weekend of October 20th.
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Have you seen a NASCAR Euro Series event? Do you think the category is a legitimate entry into the NASCAR career ladder? Can Labonte still turn on the magic at 53 in your opinion? Let us know in the comments section below!