June 23, 2017

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) Alon Day will become the first driver from Israel to compete in NASCAR's top Cup series this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

Day will drive for BK Racing in No. 23 Toyota. The 25-year-old from Tel Aviv as named Israel's 2016 ''Athlete of the Year.'' EarthWater Limited will sponsor Day's car at Sonoma.

Day last week won the NASCAR Whelen Euro race in England on June 11 at Brands Hatch. He was planning to return to Israel after that race, then got the call to race at Sonoma.

''The week has gone by so fast,'' he said Friday of the rapid change of plans.

Day also this year is running for the Euro Series Championship with plans to race again in the Monster Energy Cup Series NASCAR race at Watkins Glen in New York.

Day is one of 11 drivers selected to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class, which is an initiative that recognizes young drivers moving up the NASCAR ladder. He's also the first Israeli driver to compete last year in both the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series.

''It's a big thing in Israel because there's almost no motorsports there,'' Day said. ''A couple of days ago, my mother opened a newspaper in Israel and my photo and story was on the front page. I'm not only doing this for myself, I'm making history for my country and so many people in the Jewish community. Everyone is following me and it's good to know.''

Day currently has seven wins and finished second and third in the points standings the past two years in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

He is one of a handful of drivers with road course skills who competes one of the two times a year NASCAR does not run on ovals.

The others:

- Boris Said, No. 33 Circle Sport / TMG:

The 53-year-old has run 52 career Cup races, most on road courses. He's the substitute for Jeffrey Earnhardt this weekend.

- Billy Johnson, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports:

RPM will use Johnson this week as the replacement driver for injured Aric Almirola. Johnson has no Cup experience, but is a sports car racer.

- Josh Bilicki, No. 51 Rick Ware Racing:

He will race for Ware at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Bilicki made his 2017 debut in the Xfinity Series last weekend at Michigan. He raced in three Xfinity Series races in 2016.

- Tommy Regan, No. 55 Premium Motorsports:

Regan will be making his Cup debut. He has six Truck Series starts over the past several seasons.

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More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org/

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