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Israeli racer hopes to soon have his Day in NASCAR

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After getting his first taste of NASCAR racing in the U.S. last year, Israeli racer Alon Day is ready for the main course: He wants to become a full-time driver in either the Camping World Truck Series or Xfinity Series.

The 25-year-old Day, the first Israeli-born driver in NASCAR history to compete in both the Xfinity and Truck series, finished 13th in his Xfinity debut at Mid-Ohio last summer and 30th at Road America after a late-race incident.

In the Truck Series, he finished 24th at New Hampshire and 26th in the season finale in Miami.

In the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Day finished second in 2015 and third in 2016, capturing three wins in each of those two seasons.

MORE: Who’s Next? NASCAR’s unique search for their next superstar reaches far and wide

Day has the option to race in Europe again, but he’d rather be in the U.S. It’s just a matter of finding sponsorship and a team with good equipment.

Day is no stranger to racing in the U.S., having finished 12th in the 2012 Indy Lights series racing for Belardi Auto Racing (the first Israeli-born driver in that series, as well).

The strongest element of Day’s racing talent is road course racing. Given that, some might wonder why he doesn’t pursue racing in Formula One or IndyCar.

But it’s NASCAR or bust for Day, who is in the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class.

“In the end, I’m trying to race NASCAR, and NASCAR is here in the states,” Day said. “That’s my main priority, for sure. It doesn’t matter if it’s Xfinity or Trucks, but to be here in the United States and not in Europe.

“Going back to Europe is probably going to be a step down because I feel ready enough to race here, but that’s life. It can be tough sometimes, but I’m definitely not stopping looking for sponsors and money for the Trucks, and I really hope I can do it this year.”

Day calls his quest “annoying to be at this part of the year without knowing exactly what I’m going to do in 2017. But I know that no matter what happens, I always have my spot in the Euro Series again and I can try another shot at winning the championship over there and whatever I can do here in the States.”

Day is especially keen on learning how to race on ovals in America, given his prowess as a road and street course racer. He also “would love to see some street tracks in NASCAR, watching those cars driving in the middle of the town. I think it’s a cool idea.”

Day’s quest is all the more compelling in that motorsports is typically not a major sport in his native land. And those motorsports fans there are more apt to follow Formula One.

“I grew up without any motorsports, nothing,” Day said. “When I started racing was in 2012; actually motorsports was illegal in Israel. But as a kid, without any knowledge about racing or motorsports, I started getting interested because of Formula One and NASCAR.

“My vision was the two highest levels in motorsports. When I started racing in Europe and was on the path to Formula One, I realized that Europe was not a place I wanted to be. It’s a completely different atmosphere, completely different style of racing and I changed to NASCAR.

“That’s immediately where I knew I wanted to be. I know that being in Cup is the highest level in motorsports in the world, combined with Formula One. It’s something really special because in Israel, people even now think it’s just people sitting in the car and turning left.

“But when I actually got more success in NASCAR and especially winning (2016 Israeli) athlete of the year, people are actually getting more interested, NASCAR races are now broadcast in Israel and I’m glad people have the opportunity to understand it and realize NASCAR is one of the toughest races in the world.”

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NASCAR America: Dale Jr.’s aggressiveness at Sonoma pays off, will need it at Daytona

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Dale Earnhardt was very aggressive in his final Cup start at Sonoma Raceway, and while it may have resulted in his Lap 14 accident in Turn 11, it also helped produce his third top 10 of the year and his second in a row.

“I think being offensive is better than being passive on a road course, nothing wrong with that,” said NASCAR America analyst Max Papis, who also broke down what caused Earnhardt’s bizarre spin early in Sunday’s race that also involved Danica Patrick and Kyle Larson.

“You’ve got to commit, usually the pass has happened before you actually arrive at the corner,” Papis said. “He thought that was a good opportunity, (then) committed. ”

NASCAR America’s analysts also discussed Earnhardt’s upcoming start at Daytona, which likely will be his final Cup start there. The track may be his best shot to earn a win and a spot in the playoffs.

The analysts believe the aggressiveness that was on display at Sonoma will be necessary for Earnhardt to pull a win out at Daytona.

Earnhardt’s year got off to a rough start in the Daytona 500. He was leading the race when Kyle Busch lost a tire in Turn 3 on Lap 105, spun and collected Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones.

Earnhardt was near the front at Talladega in May late in the race when he was forced to pit for a loose tire with less than 15 laps to go.

That leaves the 14-time most popular driver with just two more chances to win a restrictor-plate race, the format he’s earned 10 of his 26 Cup Series wins.

“They’ve got to find a way to give him a car where he can be aggressive Dale Jr.,” Jeff Burton said. “What makes him so good at Daytona and Talladega is that he doesn’t hesitate. He’s the guy setting the tempo, he’s the guy forcing the issue. … He can’t drive with caution, he can’t drive worried about if ‘is my car going to stick?’ He’s got to stick it in there and know it’s going to stick. He hasn’t had that the last several plate races.”

Watch the above video for the full discussion.

NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Daytona

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NASCAR returns to Daytona International Speedway this weekend with the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will compete in the Coke Zero 400, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBC and the Xfinity Series holds the Coca-Colca Firecracker 250, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Cup – Coke Zero 400

Forty cars are entered into the 17th race of the Cup season. That would make it the sixth race this year to have the most possible cars in the field.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will be back in the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports. Brendan Gaughan will drive the No. 75 Chevrolet for Beard Motorsports.

Ryan Sieg will drive the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing in his third start for the team.

Kurt Busch won the last trip to Daytona, leading only the last lap of the Daytona 500 after multiple leaders ran out of gas in the closing laps. Brad Keselowski won last year’s Coke Zero 400.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Coca-Cola Firecracker 250

There are 43 cars on the preliminary entry list for this race, including four full-time Cup drivers. They are Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Joey Logano.

There is no driver announced for the No. 93 Chevrolet owned by RSS racing.

Ryan Reed won the February Xfinity race at Daytona after being involved in two crashes and leading nine laps. Aric Almirola won last year’s July race after a caution on the last lap forced NASCAR to review video and loop data and determined him the winner over Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch can afford to lose interim crew chief for Daytona

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Kyle Busch may have yet another view in his ear this weekend when he races in the Coke Zero 400.

Interim crew chief Ben Beshore may be suspended for the race after two unsecured lug nuts were found on the No. 18 Toyota after the Sonoma race.

The possible loss of Beshore comes after Busch’s usual crew chief, Adam Stevens, was suspended four races for a wheel falling off Busch’s car following a pit stop at Dover.

Daytona will be the fourth race of that suspension. NASCAR America’s analysts discussed the impact of the possible suspension for Busch, who is still looking for his first win since July of last year.

“They’re not making mistakes, they’re just finding themselves in difficult positions,” Dale Jarrett said. “This is certainly another one of those, going to a race track Kyle Busch can win at. But who you have on that pit box means a lot as for performing all through a race.”

Said Jeff Burton, “The frustration level is mounting, obviously. Kyle Busch is expecting to win races. … I think if you’re going to lose your crew chief, this is probably the race you want to lose it for. Going to Daytona, you pretty much have a plan going there. The pit strategy will be interesting with the stages, but if I was going to a race track, this would be the race I’d feel most comfortable without my crew chief.”

Watch the above video for the full segment.

Eddie Pardue named crew chief for Jeffrey Earnhardt’s No. 33 car

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The Circle Sport/The Motorsports Group announced that Eddie Pardue is the new crew chief on its No. 33 Chevrolet effective immediately.

Pardue, who was the team’s head of engineering, will lead the effort on Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s car this weekend in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. This will be his first Cup race as a crew chief since 2008, when he led Greg Biffle in one race at Auto Club Speedway. He has three wins in 338 races as crew chief in the Xfinity Series dating back to 1998.

The former competition director for Red Horse Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, Pardue replaces Pay Tryson, who has been released from the team.

Tryson directed Boris Said at Sonoma Raceway, where he finished 29th. Earnhardt has been in the No. 33 in every other race. His best result in his first 15 starts was 26th in the Daytona 500.

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