Alon Day will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Sonoma Raceway in two weeks, driving the #23 EarthWater Limited Toyota Camry for BK Racing in the event. The announcement was made on Friday morning.
“I’m very excited to make my debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next week in Sonoma,” he stated. “Being the first Israeli who is going to race in NASCAR’s highest series is a dream come true.”
A member of the 2016 NASCAR Next program, Day will be the first Israeli driver to compete in a Cup Series race; in 2016, he was named Israel’s Athlete of the Year. He currently competes in the Whelen Euro Series, driving the #54 Chevrolet for Italian-based CAAL Racing. After the first four races of the 2017 season, he is currently 2nd in the championship with one win and three top-10 finishes. In 2015 and 2016, he finished in the top-5 in points (2nd in 2015, 3rd in 2016) with six combined wins.
In 2016, Day ran two Xfinity Series races for MBM Motorsports at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America, both road courses. In rainy conditions at Mid-Ohio, Day ran in the top-10 for much of the race before finishing 13th, which remains MBM’s best finish to date. At Road America, he finished 30th after being forced off-course late in the race. He also ran two Camping World Truck Series races that year for Contreras Motorsports at ovals New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing 24th and 26th, respectively.
“I like giving new drivers an opportunity and Alon is a great road course driver,” BK Racing owner Ron Devine commented. “He has been successful in other series around the world and deserves a shot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”
Day, a former open-wheel and sports car racer in Europe, competing in Formula 3 and the FIA GT Series. However, he described the European racing atmosphere as “kind of a boring place for motorsports.” In 2012, he moved to the United States and ran six races in Indy Lights (becoming the first Israeli to race in any IndyCar-sanctioned series).
“I tried to go a completely different way, unlike the typical European way for drivers that go into Formula One. I tried to go into IndyCars. The connection between the United States and Israel is much stronger than any other European country. For me, it was easier to get contacts and sponsors because of that. It was a split-second decision to do it.”
In 2015, he made the transition into stock cars and started racing in the Euro Series. A year later, he received financial support from Jewish environmental/waterfront property lawyer David Levin to race in the Xfinity Series, bankrolling Day’s Xfinity debut with $60,000 from his retirement account.
“The main thing is, this is the right thing to do,” Levin said. “Jewish kids want to have a sports role model. This is something where the Jewish community should step up to the plate.”
At Sonoma, Day will drive the #23 Camry. In 2017, the car has been split between Joey Gase and Gray Gaulding, with Gaulding running 13 of 14 races so far; the combined effort of both drivers has resulted in a 36th-place standing for the team in the Owners’ Championship. Ryan Sieg will drive the #23 at Michigan on Sunday.
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma will be held on Sunday, June 25.
Featured image courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series