Alon Day

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Alon Day reaches yet another milestone as first Israeli to compete in Cup race

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Alon Day likes making NASCAR history – and he’ll do so again Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

After being the first Israeli driver to compete last year in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, the 25-year-old Day will make his Cup debut in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

“It’s pretty big,” said Day, who will also become the first driver from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to drive in a Cup race. “When I was growing up, it was my dream to race in the biggest level in NASCAR.

“I spoke about it during (NASCAR) media day in January and less than six months later, here it is, I’m doing my first Cup race. I’m totally excited. I can’t even explain it.”

Alon Day was part of the NASCAR Next program in 2016.

Day will drive the No. 23 EarthWater Toyota for BK Racing in a deal that came together just over a week ago, days after he won the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race – he’s competing full-time in that series – on June 11 at the famous Brands Hatch in England.

Day was on his way home to Israel for yet another victory party after the Brands Hatch race when he got a phone call asking him if he’d like to race at Sonoma.

“I jumped on a plane and came over,” Day told NBC Sports.

He’s looking ahead to possibly more races, including the August Cup race at Watkins Glen.

Day’s Cup debut is already making front-page news back in his native land.

“It’s a big thing in Israel because there’s almost no motorsports there,” Day said. “A couple of days ago, my mother opened a newspaper in Israel and my photo and story was on the front page.

“On Sunday, I’m not only doing this for myself, I’m making history for my country and so many people in the Jewish community. Everyone is following me and it’s good to know.”

Day made two starts each in the Xfinity Series and Truck Series last season, ultimately leading to being named Israel’s Athlete of the Year. In his first Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio, he challenged for the lead through much of the race before finishing 13th.

While he understands that Cup racing is the highest – and hardest – NASCAR level in the United States, he’s hoping for a good finish that could lead to additional opportunities.

But come Sunday, he wants to put the notoriety of his Cup debut aside and focus on just one priority.

Day ran in the top 10 and finished 13th in his Xfinity Series debut last August at Mid-Ohio.

“I try not to think about it too much because I want to concentrate and do the best I can and bring the best result I can, like I did in Mid-Ohio,” he said.

Day has never driven a Cup car, let alone raced one prior to this weekend. He got fitted for his seat Thursday and will make his first laps during Friday’s two Cup practice sessions at the road course north of San Francisco.

Other drivers may be intimidated by making their Cup debut, especially never having driven one of the cars in NASCAR’s premiere series.

Not Day. He’s ready to show his stuff and surprise people.

“I know what I’m capable of doing on road courses, and I also know what equipment I drive,” he said. “I don’t try to achieve too much like I’m going to win on Sunday.

“But seeing what I did last year at Mid-Ohio, I fought for the lead. In this kind of car, the driver is the one who makes the difference.”

And while it may intimidate another driver to go head-to-head with the likes of seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and others, Day will not let himself get intimidated.

As far as he’s concerned, they’re just other drivers and numbers on race cars – and his job is to try and do better than them.

“It’s like when I came here to race at Mid-Ohio, knowing I’d be racing against big names,” he said. “At the post-race press conference, I sat next to Sam Hornish Jr., who was my childhood hero. I used to play video games as Sam Hornish Jr.

“As soon as the green flag is out and the race starts, I don’t think about names anymore. For me, the cars are just numbers and I’m there to do the best I can.”

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NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Sonoma, Iowa

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NASCAR heads back out west this week as the Cup Series gears up for its first road course race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, which marks the halfway point of the season.

Meanwhile, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series go to Iowa Speedway for the first time this season.

Here’s the entry lists for all three races.

Cup – Toyota/Save Mart 350

There are 38 cars on the entry list and they include four drivers who are making their Cup debuts.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced that sports car driver Billy Johnson will drive the No. 43.

Israeli-born driver Alon Day will make his debut in the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing. Tommy Regan will drive the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports. Josh Bilick will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. He replaces Cody Ware who is out indefinitely with back issues.

Last year, Tony Stewart won his 49th and final Cup race after swapping the lead twice with Denny Hamlin on the last lap, including passing Hamlin in the final turn.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity –  American Ethanol E15 

There are 41 cars on the entry list, meaning one car will not qualify for the race.

There are no Cup drivers entered into the event.

Sam Hornish Jr. is set to make his first start of the year in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford.

Joe Gibb Racing will have Kyle Benjamin in its No. 18 Toyota and Christopher Bell in the No. 20.

Ben Kennedy will make his second start for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Ty Majeski will make his Xfinity debut driving the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Hornish led 183 laps and won this race driving the No. 18 for JGR in his first NASCAR start of the year. Erik Jones won the August race.

Click here for the full entry list.

Truck – Iowa 200

There are 29 Trucks entered into the race. A full field would be 32 trucks.

The No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen has withdrawn from the event.

Last year, William Byron won this race, his third of the year, after leading 107 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

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Alon Day to drive No. 23 for BK Racing at Sonoma

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Alon Day will become the first driver from Israel to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series when he drives the No. 23 for BK Racing next weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

“Being the first Israeli who is going to race in NASCAR’s highest series is a dream come true,” Day said in a statement.

The 25-year-old from Tel Aviv is coming off a victory last week in a NASCAR Whelen Euro race in England.

“I like giving new drivers an opportunity, and Alon is a great road course driver,” team owner Ron Devine said in a statement. “He has been successful in other series around the world and deserves a shot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”

Day will be the fourth different driver in the No. 23 car this season. Joey Gase drove the car in the Daytona 500. Gray Gaulding drove the car in the next 13 races. Ryan Sieg is driving the car this weekend in Michigan.

EarthWater Limited will be the sponsor at Sonoma.

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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 Next’s Alon Day named Israel’s Athlete of the Year

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Israel named NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver Alon Day its Athlete of the Year this week, marking the first time a driver has been recognized with the award.

Day, 25, was given the award by Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sports. The winner of the award is determined by an online vote (49 percent) and a committee (51 percent).

Day, a native of Ashdod, Israel, and a member of the current NASCAR Next class, has competed in NASCAR’s Euro Series for the last two seasons. He’s recorded three wins and two poles in each season.

“(This award) rewards my hard work and this is the biggest lesson I have learned. Hard work pays off,” Day told Motorsport.com.

Day made his debuts in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series in 2016. He made two starts in each, driving for Carl Long in Xfinity starts at Mid-Ohio and Road America and competing for Carlos Contreras in the Truck Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Day’s best result was 13th in the rain-soaked Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio.