Roberto Benedetti takes over the Legend Trophy lead in his home event in Italy

he 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season is underway and after two events the battle for the Legend Trophy, dedicated to EuroNASCAR 2 drivers aged 40 and over, is on! The NASCAR GP Italy saw a local hero rise to the top of the standings with a stunning performance at the wheel of the #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet. Roberto Benedetti took the lead from compatriot Claudio Cappelli, who was involved in a serious accident on Saturday that sidelined the Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver for the remainder of the event due to the damage to his car.

Benedetti even had a chance of finishing in the top-5, showing a promising pace in both races. On Saturday, Benedetti took his first class win of the season but failed to finish on Sunday due to a gearbox problem. The eighth place on Saturday was the Italian’s best result of the 2024 season and the points added to his account made him the best Legend Trophy driver after four races of the EuroNASCAR 2 Championship. The CAAL Racing driver is tenth in the standings, just five points ahead of his closest rival Michael Bleekemolen, who is eleventh.

Driving the leading #72 Toyota for Team Bleekemolen, 74-year-old Bleekemolen enjoyed a strong weekend at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. After finishing 15th on Saturday, the former Formula 1 driver stormed into the top-10 to finish second in the Legend Trophy ranks. CAAL Racing’s Sven van Laere follows in third ahead of Cappelli, who lost a lot of ground in the standings due to a crash on Saturday. Cappelli, the double winner of the Legend Trophy in Valencia, will be looking to bounce back at Brands Hatch, but cannot afford to make any mistakes in the regular season if he wants to have a say in the title battle.

Another driver looking to move up the standings is Melvin de Groot. In Spain, the reigning Legend Trophy champion’s #69 Toyota was cursed and involved in the Big One in EuroNASCAR PRO as well as several other off-track moments in EuroNASCAR 2. The Dutch giant was back in the fight for class wins in Italy and made it to the top of the podium on Sunday. Finishing third in the final EuroNASCAR 2 round of the 2024 NASCAR GP Italy, de Groot climbed to 19th in the standings, just four points behind Cappelli.

Both Cappelli and de Groot could benefit at the end of the regular season, when the worst points score will be dropped from the standings before the start of the Playoffs. Lady Trophy leader Arianna Casoli is tied in points with de Groot in 20th position, while Kenko Miura and Eric Quintal round out the Legend Trophy standings.

The 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will continue at the Indy Circuit of Brands Hatch on 8-9 May. Qualifying and all races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel and on numerous TV channels around the world. Will the American SpeedFest provide more drama and another shift in the Legend Trophy standings? Let’s find out!