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Euro Series champ Alon Day to join other winners in NASCAR Night of Champions

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It will be an emotional Day Friday in Charlotte.

Israeli driver Alon Day will be honored for winning the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship during NASCAR’s annual Touring and Weekly Night of Champions at the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center.

“I’m actually scared,” Day told NBC Sports with a laugh about giving a speech during the event. “Driving the car is easier than having to make a speech.

“I have to thank so many people for giving me this opportunity because back in 2015, I was out of racing. I got an opportunity to test for a small-time in the Euro Series and that’s how suddenly my career completely changed. I have a lot of people to thank when I go on stage. I hope to be able to speak.

“When I got into NASCAR, I arrived. Suddenly, I was like a flower who just opened to the world. My life’s completely changed since I came to NASCAR, and there’s definitely going to be emotion Friday night.”

Day came to the U.S. in 2016 and made two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series — including a 13th place finish in his debut at Mid-Ohio — and two other starts in the Camping World Truck Series, and then in 2017 made his first career NASCAR Cup start at Sonoma, where he finished 32nd.

“It’s unbelievable to think I came to NASCAR three years ago,” he said. “In three years, I never thought I’d achieve the European championship, driving a Truck, Xfinity and (be) in a Cup race. It’s just amazing. I think this championship just shows my ability and what I’m capable of doing with a stock car. I think I proved I’m good enough to drive in the Cup level. It’s just another step for coming to American motorsports.”

Day, 26, hopes to build upon his Euro Series title by earning a full-time ride in NASCAR in the U.S. for the 2018 season. He has been talking with BK Racing – which he raced for in June in the Cup race at Sonoma – about a Cup ride.

“The goal is definitely Cup,” Day said. “I know ovals can be a bit tricky for me, coming from Europe and the road course experience, but I think I’m capable of driving on the Cup level.

“If not that, then Xfinity or anything I can do in the States because this here is the real NASCAR. The real deal is definitely here.”

Day won three of the last four races of the season to clinch the 2017 Euro Series title after completing just the opening lap of the season finale at Belgium’s Circuit Zolder. In doing so, he became the first Israeli champion in the Euro Series.

MORE: Israeli driver Alon Day captures first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship

It also was the first major championship in 41 years of competition in any racing series for Day’s team, CAAL Racing.

While Cup is his goal, returning to the Euro Series is an option, if need be, and to pursue a second championship.

“I came from Europe and have driven road courses my whole life,” he said. “I know I’m good at that, I’m the champion and I know I’m capable of still winning races in Europe.”

Day’s championship was front-page news in his native land, just like when he was named Israel’s Athlete of the Year in 2016. The season-ending race in Belgium when he clinched the Euro title was streamed online back home by Israel’s Sports 5 network.

“Winning the championship was very big in Israel,” he said. “It was so big that the Israeli sport minister called me about five minutes after victory lane to congratulate me. That was a big thing. That shows how big Israel is taking this achievement. I hope I’m able to bring more respect and represent Israel even better in the future.”

In addition to Day, others to be honored include the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national champion, U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, and track champions, plus winners of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Pinty’s Canada Series and NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series.

On Saturday, the NASCAR Trucks and Xfinity Series awards show will be held in Charlotte.

Front Row Motorsports adds Michael McDowell, expands technical alliance with Roush Fenway

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Front Row Motorsports will field entries for David Ragan and Michael McDowell in 2018 while expanding its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, the team announced Thursday.

McDowell joins the Bob Jenkins-owned team after four years of driving the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing before being replaced by Kasey Kahne.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona, McDowell replaces Landon Cassill as Ragan’s teammate.

McDowell, 32, has 249 Cup starts since 2008, but only two full-time seasons under his belt. He made one start for Front Row at Watkins Glen in 2013.

“Since I first drove for Bob at Watkins Glen, we’ve kept in touch and have felt like there might be an opportunity to work together again, and the timing worked out perfectly,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a teammate, so I’m really looking forward to working with David, whom I’ve become pretty good friends with over the years. As a team now, we go into the season knowing we have five or six races that put us in position to get a win and earn a spot in the playoffs.”

Ragan returns to Front Row for his fifth season. Ragan earned the organization its first Cup victory in 2013 at Talladega. Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 39 top-10 finishes in his Cup career.

“Bob Jenkins and I have developed a good relationship over the years, both professionally and personally,” Ragan said in a press release. “I believe in this team and am proud to have been part of its growth and its successes. I’m excited that Bob and Ford have agreed to take the program to the next level, and I’m happy I’ll be here to help the team continue to grow.”

Crew chief assignments have not been finalized. FRM will announce sponsor partners and driver car numbers at a later date.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Last Ride’ diecast is Lionel Racing’s bestselling ever

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has set a new benchmark for Lionel Racing’s most purchased diecast in its 25-year history.

Lionel Racing, NASCAR’s official diecast producer, has announced that the diecast of Earnhardt’s “Last Ride” No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup season finale last month is now its bestselling diecast in company history.

The “Last Ride” car is based on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove in his rookie Cup season in 2000.

The previous bestseller was another Earnhardt diecast, for his 2014 Daytona 500 win.

Lionel Racing says that QVC’s “For Race Fans Only” show that featured Earnhardt and unveiled the car helped contribute to sales. But even without QVC, sales of the “Last Ride” diecast outpaced the 2014 Daytona 500 diecast by more than 10,000 units.

“The demand for this car has been simply astounding,” Lionel Racing President Howard Hitchcock said on the company’s website. “The fan response to this diecast is a true measure of how much Earnhardt has meant to both casual NASCAR fans and serious diecast collectors.”

Lionel Racing has also revealed the top-10 selling diecasts for the year, which you can find below. Earnhardt has six cars on the list. Chase Elliott has two and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney each have one.

Casey Mears likely to split 2018 between NASCAR, Global Rallycross and Stadium Super Trucks

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Casey Mears still plans to compete part-time in NASCAR in 2018, but he’s also looking to expand his racing horizons.

The veteran NASCAR driver told The Checkered Flag recently that he also expects to race in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, as well as Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.

“Right now I’m talking to a few NASCAR programs to do maybe limited stuff,” Mears told The Checkered Flag. “I don’t have anything that would be a full-time ride in a NASCAR series.

“I’ve been speaking with Robby Gordon in the Stadium Super Truck program. I think that’s a really cool up-and-coming-series and I’d definitely like to be involved with the GRC. It looks like a lot of fun.

“I think there’s enough difference between all those that it could leave room for doing a bit of both so we’ll see how it works out.”

Mears did not race in the Cup Series in 2017, having lost his ride at the end of 2016 to Ty Dillon in the No. 13 Geico Chevy. He has amassed 488 starts and one win (2007 Coca-Cola 600) in his Cup career, along with 13 top fives and 51 top 10s.

However, he did compete on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Xfinity Series, making 14 starts, with season-best finishes of ninth place at both Richmond and Road America. He also has 107 Xfinity starts with one win, 16 top fives and 34 top 10s.

Make donation to Martinsville toy drive to take laps around track

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Have you ever dreamed of making a lap around the oldest track in NASCAR?

Today and tomorrow, Martinsville Speedway is making that dream come true.

With a toy or monetary donation for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, you can drive your own car around the half-mile track in Martinsville, Virginia.

A $10 donation gets you five laps and $20 gets you 10 laps.

The laps are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET today and Friday.