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Israel native Alon Day impresses in NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Mid-Ohio

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Even though he was half a world away from his native Israel, Alon Day felt right at home in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

In making his Xfinity debut, Day became the first Israeli-born driver to compete in a NASCAR race in the United States and finished a respectable 13th, including challenging for the lead at one point.

“Everyone was very welcoming, all the drivers,” Day said. “Every driver I talked to tried to help.”

Part of the reason Day seemed so comfortable behind the wheel of the No. 40 Dodge is his past experience in road course racing as well as racing in the rain overseas. When the rains came early in Saturday’s race and again heavier late in the event, it actually played to Day’s experience and skill set.

“I was hoping for rain, I was really actually praying for rain,” Day said. “I knew I could do something real good in the rain because I used to drive in the rain in Europe. Fortunately, when it came, I settled into third position and was fighting for the lead.

“I knew the rain would come and I could get some spots (to challenge). The moment the rain hits, and I realized we would change to rain tires, I knew I had the speed and would attack as soon as possible.

“On the first restart and attacking immediately, I knew some guys would be slow in the rain. I have experience on the rain in Europe, I used to drive in the rain all the time, so I’m really happy. I can’t imagine how excited I am.”

Alon Day finished an impressive 13th during the 4th annual NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday.

Day, who is part of the NASCAR Next program, potentially could have finished with a top five, maybe a top 10.

“It was fun until the second rain,” he said. “When the second rain came, someone spun and hit my front suspension and damaged the car and, unfortunately, it was almost impossible to drive the car.

“I knew I had a shot for a top five, but it was impossible to drive from that moment. I just tried to survive and unfortunately it wasn’t the same.”

Day, who previously dabbled briefly (six races in 2012) in the Indy Lights Series, plans to drive in several more Xfinity races between now and the end of the season. His next race is in two weeks at Road America.

He also is in a heated championship battle in the NASCAR Euro Series.

“I’m hoping that at Road America, I can do the same – maybe even better,” Day said. “We expect to do five more races, but it all depends on sponsorship and finding the budget.

“My expectation wasn’t that high, to be honest. If I finished 25th, I’d be super high for that. Suddenly, I find myself fighting for the lead, and that’s not bad, you know?”

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Kyle Busch seeks alterations to Charlotte Roval after test

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Kyle Busch says he’s raised concerns about a couple of turns on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course to track officials after taking part in a Goodyear test there this week.

Busch, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard tested Tuesday. Wednesday’s session was rained out and rescheduled for May 1. Busch is the winningest active Cup driver on road courses. He has four career road course victories (two at Sonoma and two at Watkins Glen).

Busch, said he talked with Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., and Don Hawk, SMI’s senior vice president of business affairs, about his concerns.

“They have an idea for changes to one of them, but not the other one,’’ Busch said Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

One area of concern is the chicane on the frontstretch.

“When you’re coming down onto the front straightaway and you have that zone in the infield grass and then you turn (right), you have a direct, head-on impact into the wall on the front straightaway there so that’s kind of a concern,’’ Busch said.

“The chicane on the frontstretch, when you turn to the right (Turn 16 in the above diagram) heading head-on into a wall and then you have to turn back left going along the front straightaway (was an issue raised). When we were testing, it wasn’t bad because you could hop this curve and hop that curve, but then they wanted to straighten that out more from turn seven like at Sonoma, which is more of a 90-degree turn, and would make that angle worse.

“I expressed my displeasure with that idea and then we also had the same thing coming from Turn 7 to Turn 8 where you’re braking in a zone and heading head-on into the front straightaway wall to get back (from the infield course to Turn 1 of the oval). Softening up that corner as well and making that tighter and a softer corner where you can … get back on the main track a little safer.

“Those are some instances that I felt were kind of the worst instances. Other than that, I thought the track was kind of OK. It’s a bit narrow and tight in places, but I think you have that at some other road courses that I have not been at that NASCAR has. Montreal is really narrow, too and it puts on a decent show. I think it will be fine, it will just be different. I think it’s going to be about survival more than anything.”

The Cup series races on the Charlotte’s roval on Sept. 30 on NBC. It is the final race of the first round of the playoffs and will cut the number of title contenders from 16 to 12.

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Cup starting lineup at Martinsville Speedway

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Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway after qualifying was canceled by rain and snow Saturday.

“It’s definitely a big advantage to start out front,” Truex said. “First pit box obviously, everyone knows it’s a big deal here and that’s where you want to be so you get that clean stall in and out and not get torn up on pit road.”

The lineup was set by car owner points.

Kyle Busch will join Truex on the front row.

Row 2 will feature Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Teammate Ryan Blaney starts fifth.

Click here for starting lineup

Martinsville Truck race postponed to Sunday after Cup race

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The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Truck race at Martinsville has been postponed until Sunday afternoon, following the Cup race.

Ben Rhodes led the field to green 2:05 p.m. and held the lead until Mike Senica stalled on the track. Rhodes led the first 23 laps until precipitation red flagged the event at 2:17.

The Truck race will be televised on FS1.

Martin Truex Jr. sweeps Martinsville Cup practice

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After posting the fastest single lap and quickest 10-lap average in the first practice, Martin Truex. Jr. also topped the fastest lap chart in final practice for the STP 500 with a speed of 95.415 mph.

Also repeating his performance from the first practice, Brad Keselowski was second on the leaderboard. Keselowski was fast on long runs with the quickest 10-lap average of 94.579 mph.

Sophomore Daniel Suarez was notably fast. His lap of 95.588 mph was third on the chart.

Kyle Busch (95.122) and Ryan Newman (94.756) rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson (93.831) was hoping to carry over momentum from last week’s top 1o at Auto Club, but struggled to find single lap speed. He landed 28th on the speed chart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wheel hopped entering turn three with 33 minutes remaining. He rolled out a backup car and will start at the back regardless of where he qualifies.

Click here for the full final practice times.