Alon Day still celebrating making NASCAR history
Veteran racer and Israeli native Alon Day is still ecstatic about winning the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship and looks forward to continuing his NASCAR career after making the historic accomplishment with CAAL Racing.
Day sat down with Motorsport.com recently to answer a few questions about his season and all of the emotions surrounding his first NASCAR championship.
Day finished the 2017 season with four wins and 11 top-five finishes in 12 races highlighted by sweeping the semi-final events at Autodromo Di Franciacorta in Italy to give him the lead in the standings.
You finally scored your first NASCAR championship. How does it feel?
This definitely feels great to win the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship. After coming so close over the past two years we finally managed to win the title. I think the time it took me to win this championship shows how strong the competition is in the series. I had to fight hard until the very last race of the season to secure the championship for me and my team.
You compete for a well-known team in the NWES, how special does it feel for you to bring them a championship?
I won my first driving championship for my own race team and that was nice, but it feels even greater to win it for CAAL Racing Team. We’ve been together for three years and they’ve become my Italian family. Even though I don’t speak Italian, this partnership shows that the passion to win is in every one of us on the team. I’m very thankful to be the first driver to win a NWES title for CAAL Racing. I couldn't ask for better team to do it with.
What do you think made the difference for you this season to breakthrough and win the title?
I think the experience me and my team got in the past couple of years made the biggest difference. Our engineer, mechanics and everybody on the team now know me perfectly and what I like in a race car. They tuned the car the way I really need it to be and that helped us at every race. And personally, I worked really hard this year. One of the major keys in this championship was that I wasn't involved in any crashes or mistakes and I gained valuable points in every race and we scored a top-three finish in almost every race.
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Is there one particular thing you or your team did differently this season that you felt made a difference in your performance in 2017?
As I said before, I think it was the experience my team built up over the past couple of years made the biggest difference in our season. I also think the experience I’ve gained driving in the series helped me become a better driver in avoiding mistakes and incidents on the track.
Is there one race or one event that you feel stands out and made a difference during this season with the team?
The German round in Hockenheimring was the weekend that changed everything. We had the quickest car throughout the entire weekend and started from the pole position and lost the lead to Anthony Kumpen in the straight line, which made us feel that we are missing some performance. So we pushed our efforts and worked really hard for the playoffs, testing and doing more development work on the car. We came to the playoffs and dominated it because of the hard work of everyone in CAAL Racing Team.
You've already been recognized by your home country of Israel for your accomplishments in motorsports, but how does it feel to now be known as a NASCAR champion in your home country?
This accomplishment was definitely the biggest in the history of Israeli motorsports, one hour after the race I got a phone call from the Minister of Sports in Israel that shows my win was seen in Israel. I’m definitely recognized now as a NASCAR champion in Israel and this is great to see that people are now getting much more interest in NASCAR because of that.
Do you feel having this championship can help your resume as your continue to pursue a full-time ride in the United States?
Eventually in motorsports it’s all around funds and sponsors and for me this is definitely a harder job than driving the car. Winning the NWES title definitely gives me a boost in terms of approaching teams in United States. Being a championship driver and winning the prestigious title gives everyone conformation that I’m a fast driver and have something to show. So right now, most of our efforts are concentrated in finding sponsors for a ride in the United States.
Do you feel your championship can help build interest for motorsports in Israel?
Yes, I’m sure about it. Since I started racing cars I was the first to win things, international races, championship or even the Athlete of The Year in my home country. So a lot of eyes are on me and a lot of people follow my races and my career. More importantly that that, a lot of kids are now asking me what they need to do to become a professional driver and this just shows how the interest in motorsports has grown majorly the last couple of years.
Who would you like to thank for helping you win your title?
I think first of all I want to thank my family. The support I get from them is the most important thing for every athlete who competes in any sport. I definitely want to thank Maabadot Izotest, my sponsor in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Without them I probably would not even be writing those words now as a champion. And CAAL Racing Team, every person on this great team helped me make this dream of mine come true. They’re an awesome group of hard workers and winners!
How did your family feel about your championship?
As I said before, family support is in my opinion the most important thing for every athlete in sports, it’s the base of every athlete and without that base you can’t build anything. They’ve supported me since my very first go-kart race all the way until now, and my dad is with me for most of the races. When I win, they win, too, and they’re as happy as I am every time I win a race, or in this case, a championship.
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