Myatt Snider, 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year, will race full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this season, it was announced Tuesday.
Snider, 24, the son of NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider, will compete in the Euro Series’ ELITE 2 Division, piloting the No. 48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang along with three-time series champion Ander Vilarino. Myatt Snider will be among 14 drivers competing for rookie of the year honors.
“It will be my first ever chance to race in Europe and that’s not an opportunity you get very often,” Snider said in a media release. “It is going to be an interesting change of pace and it is a fantastic opportunity to take on this challenge with a such a top-level team as Racing Engineering. I am really excited.”
This is the 11th season for the series, with a record 33 cars entered for this weekend’s season-opening race in Valencia, Spain. The season schedule has also been expanded to 13 races.
“I’m going (to Valencia) with an open mind,” said Snider, who has spent much of his racing career on ovals. “But of course, I want to perform because I’m a competitive guy and I want to win.”
For the first time in the series’ history, it will include a number of champions from various motorsports series including NASCAR Cup (Bobby Labonte), Formula 1 (Jacques Villeneuve), NASCAR Euro (Alon Day and Ander Vilarino), Mexican NASCAR (Ruben Garcia Jr.) and a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (Christophe Bouchut).
In addition, 20 countries are represented between the 57 drivers and teams across both NASCAR Euro ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 divisions.
Not long after he competes in the K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, Ruben Garcia Jr. will board a plane for Spain.
Waiting for Garcia will be the first part of a driver exchange program between NASCAR’s European and Mexico racing series.
The defending champion in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, Garcia will take part in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ season-opening races April 13-14 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. On Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the Euro Series champion will return the favor by competing in the Mexico series finale in Mexico City.
All the races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube Channel and Facebook page and on Motorsport.tv.
The races in Valenica will be Garcia’s first in Europe, but Spain will “feel like home” for the him after frequent holiday trips there to visit friends.
“It was great news for me because for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to put something together to go run in the Euro NASCAR because that’s a series that’s been growing a lot and really got my interest,” Garcia said Wednesday during a teleconference. “Even though I’m very, very far from home or the United States and where I’m living now, it’ll still feel like home cause they speak my native language there and it’s a country I enjoy travelling to.”
Garcia’s Euro Series start will come in the ELITE 1 Division driving the No. 1 Alex Caffi Motorsport Toyota Camry. Though Garcia will only have three practices sessions to get used to his car and the 14-turn track, he thinks his history with road courses in the Mexico and K&N Series will help.
But Garcia is aware of some of the more intrinsic differences in series.
“The cars are similar to what we race in Mexico,” Garcia said. “So on that part I don’t think it will be as challenging. … Since they have more of the European style of racing, the FIA style of racing. … It’s different than what we do here in Mexico and the United States. They really don’t have contact. Their battles are strong, but they’re very, very respectful. That’s something I might need to get used to, no contact at all. They’re very good road course racers.”
“I can tell you what got my attention,” Garcia said of the Euro Series. “They’re getting a lot of new cars, they’re getting a lot of new sponsors and that’s always a good sign for a series. If that’s happening it’s because they’re doing something right. As a driver you always want to try new things and get new challenges.
“They go to some really cool places and really cool tracks. … That’s something that really got my attention, they go to some Formula 1 race tracks. Some great facilities, some great road courses that when I was really little I dreamed of racing (at).”
Garcia said he’ll try to tap into the knowledge of three-time Euro Series champion Ander Vilariño and defending champion Alon Day, both drivers he has relationships with.
As a two-time Mexico Series champion, Garcia is excited for the driver swap as an opportunity to show off the series’ talent.
“There’s a great level (of competition) in the Mexico as well as the NASCAR Euro Series,” Garcia said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for both series to show how good they are and how good the NASCAR Mexico drivers can do outside their country. Even though we’re racing against road course specialists, we’ll still`perform really good.”
Villeneuve has made 20 starts across all three of NASCAR’s national series in the United States.
Villeneuve took part in a two-day test at the Autodromo di Franciacorta in Italy last week to get familiar with the Euro series car.
“I had a lot of fun discovering the car because it is really similar to what I was used to in NASCAR in the US. You can really drive it hard and you can work a lot on the car and that is also very nice. I also like the track, it’s interesting and there’s a lot to do for the driver,” Villeneuve told NASCAR’s Home Tracks website. “Returning full-time is what matters the most to me, because I want to be part of a complete project and have a goal for the entire season. I’m really looking forward to the first race of 2019!”
The series’ season begins April 13-14 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.