NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Alon Day Set for XFINITY Series Debut; Planning Rookie Campaign in 2017

Israel will be represented on a NASCAR track for the first time when cars hit the track this weekend at Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course.

NASCAR Next member Alon Day, who hails from Ashdod, Israel and currently lives in Tel Aviv, will step in a vehicle not soaked in the yellow paint he’s accustomed to. Instead, he has journeyed to America, temporarily staying in Moorseville in preparation of doing something no Israeli has done before.

Day will pilot one of MBM Motorsports’ two entries during the XFINITY Series’ second road course contest of the year. Partnering with environmental/waterfront property lawyer David Levin from Florida, who took $60,000 out of his retirement account to give Day a helping hand, the pair will be working with the Carl Long-owned team at Mid-Ohio, along with Road America on Aug. 27.

“Because you can’t practice on the track with the car, the main thing now is simulators,” Day told Frontstretch. “Actually, practicing with simulators is the best thing to do right now. I practice almost a few hours everyday to prepare myself for a new track. I never been to Mid-Ohio before. It’s going to be my first time there.

(Photo: via Alon Day)
Day made his stock car debut in 2015, winning Rookie of the Year in the Euro Series and finishing second in the championship battle. (Photo: via Alon Day)

“Then, there’s the fitness side. That’s something I have to push more because in the European championship, the races aren’t as long as the XFINITY ones. It’s not going to be easy. It’s demanding. It’s probably going to be a bit harder. The fitness side is something I really am pushing hard at right now, trying to be as fit as possible to race.”

Day finished runner-up in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2015, his rookie season in stock car racing. Hailing from an open-wheel and GT background, the move to NASCAR was one that shocked him. Though he says he struggled to get adjusted to the way stock cars handle, he was victorious three time in the Euro Series, including wins in three of the final four events.

“I don’t know how tough the competition is going to be,” Day said. “I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s the XFINITY Series. I know some drivers may be in much better equipment. I’m going to concentrate in my own cockpit. I always say I’m going to concentrate in my own cockpit, do the best I can without thinking too much and the results will come with hard work.”

Day’s CAAL Racing No. 54 Chevrolet has visited Victory Lane twice this year, with wins at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain and at Brands Hatch Circuit in Britain. He currently sits fourth in the standings, 32 points behind current points leader Gabillon Frederic after eight rounds.

Day will be driving the same racecar that Stanton Barrett competed with at Watkins Glen International this past weekend, finishing 19th for MBM Motorsports. The result was the team’s best of the year, beating its previous top finish of 22nd at Loudon with Timmy Hill.

“I come from the European industry of motor sports,” Day said. “For me, everything is new. I go to MBM Motorsports, and as a new team for me, I don’t think about confidence. I’m pretty confident in myself because I know what results I can bring at road courses. Road courses are my specialty. I know it’s going to be good.”

“I don’t think about the top 20 (Barrett’s result). I’m going to do the best I can to bring the best result I can to the team, to make the sponsors as happy as possible. I have to thank them because they put me here in the car. I will do the best I can without thinking too much about the past.”

Along with hopes of competing in five more races after Road America, Day is looking for packages to compete full-time in the XFINITY Series next year. He says as of now, it is likely he will end up at Daytona International Speedway in February.

(Photo: via Alon Day)
Alon Day will become the second Euro Series driver since last year to make the trip to America, competing in the XFINITY Series. (Photo: via Alon Day)

But the sponsor hunt will dictate Day’s shot at competing full-time in NASCAR’s second-tier division in 2017.

“The team has a few tracks circled, but it depends what approval I get from NASCAR because I’m jumping immediately to ovals, which is something unusual,” Day said. “We’re going to start with the small ovals. We’re going to run only seven races this year because if I run more than that, I won’t be considered a rookie in 2017. We’re probably going to end up at Daytona in 2017. We’re still working on that and still working on sponsors. It all depends on the budget.”

Growing up racing across Europe, the excitement of possibly competing at Daytona is something new for him. As he says, “it’s like starting a new story.”

A member of the latest NASCAR Next class, a group of drivers designated as future stars of the sport, he looks to join the list of full-time competitors in 2017.

If Day can compete full-time next year, he will be the first driver to do so from the Euro Series. 2014 champion Anthony Kumpen has run four XFINITY Series races since last year, including the season-opener at Daytona this year, but has not been back in an XFINITY Series car since.

However, before Day can think about next year, the focus remains on this weekend. He has spent the week thus far getting to know the team, along with practicing laps at Road America on a simulator and of course, finishing up paper work from NASCAR.

Back when we interviewed Day in April, NASCAR officials said the sport does not keep track of religious backgrounds of drivers. However, when he hits the track, he will become one of few Jewish NASCAR drivers in the sport’s history. He will also be the first competitor in one of NASCAR’s premier divisions born in the Middle East.

As Levin told USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, “Jewish kids want to have a sports role model.”

Said Levin: “Without the Jewish community’s support, Alon will run the two races that will be sponsored by my retirement account and that will be the end of his career.”

While the remaining part of Day’s schedule will rely heavily on funding, he has high hopes for his experience in America. Evidently, he hopes it will go better than his stint in the Indy Lights Series in 2012, when he ran six races for Belardi Auto Racing before heading back to race in Europe.

“I don’t know how tough the competition is going to be,” Day said. “I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s the XFINITY Series. I know some drivers may be in much better equipment. I’m going to concentrate in my own cockpit. I always say I’m going to concentrate in my own cockpit, do the best I can without thinking too much and the results will come with hard work.”

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