Alon Day

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Myatt Snider to race full season in NASCAR Euro Series

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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.

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‘The best feeling in the world’: Alon Day on beating Bobby Labonte

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As a 9-year-old in Israel, Alon Day‘s introduction to auto racing came via video games.

“I used to play a lot of racing video games, simulators,” Day told NBC Sports a few days after he secured his second NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship.

In the NASCAR games he played, one car stood out to Day.

It wasn’t Jeff Gordon‘s DuPont car, Mark Martin‘s Valvoline car or Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Budweiser car.

“Actually my favorite car was the 18 car, the Interstate Batteries (car) of Bobby Labonte,” Day says.

Seventeen years later, Day got a friendly tap from the past on his rear bumper.

It wasn’t an Interstate Batteries car, but the green-and-black No. 18 Day saw in his rear-view mirror in July at Tours Speedway in France was driven by Labonte.

The 2000 Cup champion is the first former champion to compete full-time in the Euro Series. 

“That’s a very nice thing to see when you have a such a big driver come to your championship,” Day says. “You’re expecting (him) to be very unreachable, I would say that. We all were super surprised by the fact that Bobby was such a nice guy, talking to everybody. Giving advice to young drivers, helping them. Not only me, which was great, but some other drivers did a couple of races also in the states and he helped them also. That’s a nice thing to see and to experience. … People want to see Bobby Labonte. People comes to the races to see that. That makes it even bigger.”

In a series made up mostly of road courses, Labonte shined on the .403-mile oval in Tours.

“I think everybody was impressed,” says Day. “On road courses he was in the top 10, but he’s not really fighting for wins. But when we came to ovals suddenly the guy was so quick.”

After Labonte started seventh in the second Tours race, he found himself behind race leader Day on a restart with four laps to go.

Labonte let Day know he was there.

“He really bumped me. He was pushing me hard,” Day recalls.

But Day survived and claimed his first win on an oval. Labonte finished second for his only top five of the season.

“First of all I won in front of Bobby Labonte,” Days says. “That was personally the best feeling in the world.”

The surreal experience wasn’t over. Labonte made sure to talk with Day afterward.

“After that we had a good conversation about the way he drives an oval,” Days says. “He explained to me in super detail how he drove the car and what he actually did to be so fast, that was a good thing for me.”

Three months later, the moment was topped when Day completed his second championship campaign. He did it with a sweep of last weekend’s races at Circuit Zolder in Belgium.

Day “had to bounce back from the grave” to win the title after he was disqualified from a win in May for failing post-race inspection and lost driver points.

Even though he entered the final race with six wins, Day had to finish at least fourth to claim the title. Even a start from the pole didn’t calm his nerves.

“Until the very, very last lap when I crossed the line I wasn’t sure I was going to win the championship,” says Day. “Even during the middle of the season, I (never) thought I was going to win the championship. … Still, I surprised myself.”

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Alon Day to make second Cup start at Richmond

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Driving the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota, Alon Day will attempt to make his second Cup start and first on an oval this weekend at Richmond.

Day made his Cup debut last year at Sonoma. He finished 32nd.

In August 2016, Day became the first driver from Israel to compete in one of NASCAR’s top series when he started 22nd and finished 13th in the Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Day made two starts on oval tracks in the Camping World Truck Series that same year with a best of 24th at New Hampshire.

Last year, Day won the Whelen Euro Series Elite 1 championship on the strength of four victories. In 2018, he has already matched that mark with four wins through eight of the 12 races.

Sponsorship will come from Best Bully Sticks, a Richmond-based company specializing in natural dog treats.

“I am so excited to be back in the Monster Energy Cup Series again this year and to be sponsored by Best Bully Sticks,” Day said in a press release.

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Bobby Labonte places second in Whelen Euro Series race in France

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While most of the NASCAR world’s eyes were on an instant classic unfolding in Chicago on Sunday, there was other NASCAR action going on involving 2000 Cup champion Bobby Labonte.

Labonte hasn’t competed in a NASCAR race on American soil since 2016, but he’s now competing full-time in the Whelen Euro Series and he’s not doing too bad driving the No. 18 he helped make famous in the Cup Series.

On Sunday, Labonte placed second behind Alon Day in the ELITE 1 Round 8 Final at Tours Speedway in Tours, France.

Labonte was unable to find a way around Day in a four-lap shootout to end the race. His podium finish came after he spun early in the race and a clutch issue forced him out of the ELITE 1 Round 7 race on Saturday.

“It was such a hard race because of the grip level and the degradation of the tires,” Labonte said. “The car changed a lot and the bottom line was always the groove. Alon did a great job holding his line. I got to his bumper but you don’t crash people to win a race. He didn’t do anything wrong. I tried to get him and maybe there was a chance with a few more laps. My team did a great job and today was a good day but first would have been better.”

The only American competing in the series, Labonte is 12th in points with one top five and three top 10s.

The series’ 12-race season is divided into six weekends with races held on back-to-back days.

The season’s last two weekends are Sept. 15-16 (Hockenheim, Germany) and Oct. 20-21 (Zolder, Belgium).

Watch the race’s conclusion below.

NASCAR Euro Series will have record number of teams for 2018

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The 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will have a record number of teams competing this season, it was announced Thursday.

A total of 30 cars and drivers from 19 teams – both returning teams and newcomers – will take part in the 12-event series held on six racetracks in competition for the European NASCAR championship.

The six countries that will play host to the series are Spain, Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.

A new addition to the series’ roster of racetracks will be the oval track at Tours, France, which will play host to the Oval World Challenge.

Here’s how the 2018 NASCAR Euro season shapes up:

  • The season will open with the NASCAR Grand Prix of Spain, April 14-15, at the Circuit Valenciana Ricardo Tormo road course as part of the fifth annual Valencia NASCAR Fest.
  • From there, the schedule will go to Brescia, Italy and the Autodromo Franciancorta road course on May 19 and 20.
  • June 9-10 will be contested at Great Britain’s famous Brands Hatch road course as part of the American SpeedFest.
  • June 30 and July 1 will see the only oval track of the season, the Oval World Challenge at Tours Speedway in Tours, France.
  • After a 2 ½ month layoff, the series resumes with a four-race playoff: Sept. 15 and 16 at the road course in Hockehiem, Germany, and the championship-deciding pair of races Oct. 21 and 22 on the Circuit Zolder road course in Belgium.

Date Round Track Country

April 14: Round 1 – Valencia (road course), Spain
April 15: Round 2 – Valencia (road course), Spain
May 19: Round 3 – Franciacorta (road course) in Brescia, Italy
May 20: Round 4 – Franciacorta (road course) in Brescia, Italy
June 9: Round 5 – Brands Hatch (road course) in Great Britain
June 10: Round 6 – Brands Hatch (road course) in Great Britain
June 30: Round 7 – Oval World Challenge (oval) in Tours, France
July 1: Round 8 – Oval World Challenge (oval) in Tours, France
PLAYOFFS:
September 15: Semi-final 1 – Hockenheim (road course) in Germany
September 16: Semi-final 2 – Hockenheim (road course) in Germany
October 20: Final 1 – Circuit Zolder (road course) in Belgium
October 21: Final 2 – Circuit Zolder (road course) in Belgium

The series will once again be divided into the Elite 1 and Elite 2 divisions.

Israeli driver Alon Day will return to defend his 2017 NWES championship with CAAL Racing, which will field three Chevrolets.

Other key teams include:

* Knauf Racing, which brings back Elite 2 Division Champion Thomas Ferrando as part of a two-car Ford Mustang operation.

* PK Carsport and Alex Caffi Motorsport will once again both have two two entries apiece.

* Braxx Racing will expand to three cars.

* Racers Motorsport will field three Ford Mustangs.

* Renauer Motorsport and MRT by Nocentini will field two Mustangs apiece.

* Other returning teams include RDV Competition, Racing Total, DF1 Racing, Mishumotors and The Club Motorsports.

* Newcomers to the series include Go Fas Racing Europe, Pegasus Racing (switches to the NWES from endurance racing), Solaris Motorsport (from GT racing), Hezemans Racing, Race Art Technology and BVR Motorsport. All newcomers will make their official NWES debuts at Valencia.

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