ISRAELI DRIVER Alon Day.
(photo credit: NASCAR VIA GETTY IMAGES/COURTESY)
Alon Day will be making Israel motor sport history this weekend. An Israeli in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the top racing series of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, sounded like a far-fetched dream for so long.
But the 25-year-old, who has registered numerous firsts for Israeli motor sport, will be making his biggest breakthrough starting from Friday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway in California.
Day will compete in his first Cup Series race, driving the BK Racing No. 23 EarthWater Limited Toyota Camry, and is aiming to prove he deserves to become a full-time driver.
Day will take part in practice on Friday, with qualifying to be held on Saturday and the 350-kilometer race to be contested on Sunday.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
, Day seemed to be taking it all in his stride and was anxious to already begin racing.
“At the end of the day this is just another race,” said the Ashdod native, who has competed in the European division of NAS CAR for several years. “This is the highest level there is. There is nowhere to go from here. This is the top of the top.”
Day is coming off a win in the NASCAR Whelen Euro race in England. He has won eight NASCAR Europe races in the past three years and was voted the most popular driver twice.
Day also won the 2009 Asian Formula Renault Series and FIA GT Championship. He raced in several US Xfinity Series League events and is the first stock car driver from outside of North America to be selected for the NASCAR NEXT program, an initiative to feature NASCAR’s future stars.
“I haven’t had a moment to breath since it was announced that I will be competing in the race. It has been unbelievably hectic,” said Day.
“The easy part is the driving and I’m hoping for the best. I feel completely ready and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting for this my entire life and I’m ready for this moment.”
Day is targeting a place in the top 10.
“I’m not driving a car that is supposed to win the race. My goal is to register the team’s best ever result on a road course. If I can finish in the top 10 that will be like a win for me,” explained Day. “That wouldn’t be realistic on an oval course, but it is realistic on a road course. This is my expertise.”
In order to become a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver, Day needs to find a significant sponsor who will be willing to cover the almost $200,000 in expenses for each and every race.
A Jewish attorney named David Levin has led Day’s cause, searching for financial backing. Believing Jewish kids should also have a motor sport role model, he has personally guaranteed $60,000 of his money, which he took out of his retirement account.
Levin helped recruit NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris as a sponsor, but has been frustrated by the lack of response from the Jewish community.
“We thought that everyone in the Jewish community would want to support an Israeli-Jewish driver but we have encountered some difficulties,” said Day. “I receive a lot of moral support from Israel, but finding a sponsor and funding has been far more difficult.”
Day will continue to compete for the 2017 NASCAR Euro Series Championship with plans to race again in the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen at the start of August. He will also take part in select races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series.
“I believe that in the next year I’ll be ready to become a full-time NASCAR driver,” noted Day. “Everyone is very supportive. When they ask about my accent I explain to them that Jesus also spoke in my language. They get really excited about that.”