Photo: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

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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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.

Israeli driver Alon Day captures first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship

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Alon Day closed off a strong second half of the season by winning the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship Saturday at Belgium’s Circuit Zolder.

Starting on the front row, Day came into Saturday’s event on a three-race winning streak. He clinched the title when he crossed the start-finish line at the end of the first lap. He finished fourth in the race.

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

“We were trying so hard the past three years to win this title, we won so many races but never the championship,” said Day, who finished second and third in the Euro Series the last two seasons.

Day will be honored in the annual NASCAR awards banquet Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte.

Day made two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and two other starts in the Camping World Truck Series, both in 2016, and his first career NASCAR Cup start this season at Sonoma, where he finished 32nd.

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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