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Israeli driver Alon Day captures first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 - Practice

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 23: Alon Day, driver of the #23 earthwater Toyota, stands in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23, 2017 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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Alon Day closed off a strong second half of the season by winning the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship Saturday at Belgium’s Circuit Zolder.

Starting on the front row, Day came into Saturday’s event on a three-race winning streak. He clinched the title when he crossed the start-finish line at the end of the first lap. He finished fourth in the race.

Day became the first Israeli champion in the Euro Series. It also was the first major championship in 41 years of competition in any racing series for Day’s team, CAAL Racing.

“We were trying so hard the past three years to win this title, we won so many races but never the championship,” said Day, who finished second and third in the Euro Series the last two seasons.

Day will be honored in the annual NASCAR awards banquet Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte.

Day made two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and two other starts in the Camping World Truck Series, both in 2016, and his first career NASCAR Cup start this season at Sonoma, where he finished 32nd.