Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1) will feature a first in stock-car racing history: An Israeli driver competing in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Alon Day, 25, a native of Ashdod, Israel, is driving the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota this weekend at Sonoma. Day is a veteran of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, where he finished second in points in 2015 and third last year.
Here are six things Day had to say Friday morning at Sonoma.
© Barry Cantrell / LAT Photo USA © Barry Cantrell / LAT Photo US
On being the first Israeli NASCAR driver
Day knows that he will be a trailblazer for his homeland. “It’s kind of history, not only for me, it’s history for Israel, for everybody,” said Day. “And I’m pretty sure that in Israel people are really excited and rooting for me, and yeah, I’m just excited, and I can’t wait to go to drive the car.”
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It’s been a wild couple of weeks for Day, who won a race at Brands Hatch in Great Britain last week and then was announced to drive for BK.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The amount of media I did and the amount of interviews, I did so much that I didn’t even realize that we ‑‑ you know, the time just flies, and suddenly I’m here in Sonoma and I’m driving the car. It was definitely a stressful two weeks. I’m still happy ‑‑ I didn’t even celebrate my victory from last week, and now I’m over here in Sonoma. I hope this one will be good, and then I can celebrate two races in one party.”
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Stock cars vs. open-wheel
Day cut his teeth in open-wheel cars, but now he’s a convert to stock cars for sure.
“I can’t even imagine myself going back to GT or single-seater or formula cars,” said Day, “I’m having so much fun driving a car which you don’t have any technology or any help to help the driver driving the car. You actually drive it by yourself and you have to fight hard in the car to make yourself quick.”
(c), Phillip G. Abbott LAT Photo USA Phillip Abbott
How he prepared for the weather
Hot, dry weather at Sonoma? Nothing new for Day.
“I still came from Israel, half desert, so trust me, I know how to drive also in the dry,” he said. “And the fact that Sonoma, it’s a road course, definitely gives me kind of a soft landing, and I hope to get adapted to the car and the track really quick and doing good.”
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What folks back home might think
Stock-car racing isn’t exactly a big priority in Israel, so Day said his countrymen would be in for some surprises.
“In Israel we barely have motorsport,” he said. “We do have motorsport now just growing up, but I’m pretty sure they will be a bit shocked to see how the motorsport here is working and how all the facility and the teams and the track.”
Day said NASCAR racing is far more structured and less chaotic than the typical Israeli might be used to. “Everything is organized, and not in the typical Israeli way,” he said. “The Israeli way is kind of crazy and messy, and here it’s so organized, and I’m pretty sure every Israeli person coming here to see the race would be a bit shocked.”
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