By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Like many road course ringers, when Alon Day made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2016, he was out of his element. Although the NASCAR Next alum was competing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the racing required a radically different approach than he has had in Europe.
Day drove the No. 40 FLWaterFront.com Dodge Challenger to an impressive 13th-place finish in his debut. The 26-year-old turned heads in the woefully underfunded MBM Motorsports car, running inside the Top-10 for much of the race. Day had been running inside the top-five on the final restart before he was spun off track in the chaotic, rain-soaked finish. Although contact is common in NASCAR’s various divisions in the United States, it’s almost unheard-of in Europe.
“In Europe, contact with other cars is almost illegal, you try to avoid that,” Day explained. “I remember the first time I ran a race at Mid-Ohio when I drove that Dodge to a Top-15, my biggest struggle was dealing with other drivers bumping me. I didn’t expect that. I jumped in the race and people started pushing me out and rubbing. I wasn’t prepared for that, and it took me a lot of time to realize what was going on and to get into that style of driving.”
Although the driving disciplines may be different, the overall experience is remarkably similar. Day has just five starts in NASCAR’s National Series compared to 46 in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Elite 1 Division.
Prior to moving to NASCAR’s European division, the Ashdod, Israel native competed in various Sports Car and Open Wheel Divisions. Many of those series offer various driver aids and settings that are non-existent in NASCAR. Day credits that key difference as something that helped prepare him for his NASCAR National Series starts.
“I think that the European Championship helped me with my races here because the car doesn’t really matter. It’s always the same car as long as you have four wheels, a steering wheel, and an engine, you’re going to be the same. It’s a stockcar, and I came from the GT world where you have so many settings and so much technology in the car. Then in European NASCAR, you just have a steering wheel and a shifter, and no help at all. That actually prepared me better for my racing here in the United States.”
The 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Elite 1 Division Champion plans to use all of this knowledge as he prepares to make his first start on an Oval in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Day will pilot the No. 23 Best Bully Sticks Toyota Camry for BK Racing in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
“I’ve done a couple of races,” Day said. “I know what’s going on, I know how it works here, and that is going to help me this weekend.”