Israel’s Alon Day Looks To Make A Name For Himself In NASCAR’s National Seriesby Hunter Thomas August 25, 2016 0 comments
Growing up in Israel, Alon Day wasn’t surrounded by the world of motorsports, just desert and plenty of sand.
Day has been racing since he was nine-years old, and he found instant success while traveling and competing all through Europe. In 2012, Day started six Indy Lights races while in the United States. His best series finish was a sixth that was captured at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The following year, he returned to Europe to race GT cars.
“I grew up in Israel, and I still live in Israel,” Day said. “My base is in Tel Aviv. Since there’s no motorsports in Israel at all – we only have desert and sand – I have to move to Europe. So my whole career I actually was based in Germany or Italy or all of those countries. I was driving GTs so many times, I was like a Mercedes factory driver and backed by AMG, and I was really on the path to the best endurance races, but suddenly sponsorship (fell).”
When sponsorship didn’t go in the direction that was planned, Day began searching for another series to show off his driving skills, and that’s when he discovered the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Day had a test day in one of the series’ stock cars, and everything went well for the young man, who grew up racing sports cars and open wheel.
Day said, “Someone told me like ‘hey, look at this championship. It’s doing pretty good,’ and I said ‘let’s give it a try’. I had a test day; it was fantastic. The car and everything was working pretty well, and my first season in NASCAR, I was doing so well. I finished vice champion (second place), so suddenly my whole world became NASCAR. I was so much into GT and technology and everything, and now I’m just looking for horsepower and finding it in a NASCAR car.”
The cars that Day competed in while traveling through Europe had rear traction control, ABS and really advanced technology. Day described the experience as more of driving a computer, rather than a race car. He believes that ultimately deep down, all race car drivers want the style of engineering that NASCAR and other stock car racing series produce.
“I think that’s what every driver wants,” Day said in reference to less technology in race cars. “If you look at Europe, we’re all begging for this kind of racing. They just never opened their eyes to look at what’s going on.”
Once in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Day set his sights on working hard enough to compete in the United States of America. In his very first start in the series, he finished ninth in Valencia. Last year during his debut season, he captured three wins, two poles, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 12 starts. He finished out the season second in the championship standings and was awarded the Junior “Jerome Sarran Trophy for being the Rookie of the Year.
“When I first started racing in the NASCAR Euro Series, ultimately (my) goal changed,” Day said. “I did the GT racing my whole life, and my goal was doing Le Mans and 24-hour endurance races and things like that. When I changed into NASCAR, suddenly your exposed to such a different World. It’s not that big in Europe, and so ultimately your goal becomes racing here in the States and being in the top level of NASCAR in the States. So for me to be here, I’m just really happy to be here. I’m enjoying every single lap in the car.”
The success in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with CAAL Racing was enough to get him an opportunity of a lifetime in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. His debut in NASCAR’s second highest series came at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course two weekends ago on August 13, while piloting the MBM Motorsports No. 40 FLWaterfront.com Dodge Challenger. Day started 22nd, but by lap 20, he was already inside the top-five. He spent most of the race inside the top-10, making up most of his ground during the rain that soaked the track.
“I grew up driving in the rain,” Day said. “In Europe, I used to do that. The moment I saw the drops, on the windscreen, I was like ‘sweet, that’s going to be fun,’ and we restarted the race, and suddenly I find myself on the restart passing three guys going up to Turn Two. I was like ‘hold the braking, I’m passing six more guys,’ and suddenly I find myself third in the race. I was like keep raining, please keep raining. I’m used to the rain; I grew up racing in the rain quite a lot.”
Day battled through the field and the elements to finish 13th. The NASCAR Next driver now looks ahead to the Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville this weekend, his second scheduled start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He’ll be driving MBM Motorsport’s No. 13 car on Saturday. Day hopes that his previous experience competing on road courses will result in success at Road America, much like it did at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In an exclusive interview with TheFourthTurn.com, Day also mentioned that he’s working on getting the license to compete at Daytona in February, but before then, he needs to compete in more races to earn the approval.
“I hope to repeat the same performance at Road America,” Day said. “It will be very awesome for me. We should be looking to make five more races this year to get approved for the license to drive Daytona, and we have to do the races. We’re looking to do some ovals, but it’s all about the sponsorship.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Photo By: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images