WS: Douglas County: Blake Koch preview

Golden Gate Racing Team aims to rally back to the front in NASCAR Camping World Douglass Speedway event SAN FRANCISCO - After chasing a series of unfortunate events in round five of the NASCAR Camping World West championship at Iowa ...

Golden Gate Racing Team aims to rally back to the front in NASCAR Camping World Douglass Speedway event

SAN FRANCISCO - After chasing a series of unfortunate events in round five of the NASCAR Camping World West championship at Iowa Speedway, Blake Koch and the Richard Childress Development Golden Gate Racing Team are ready to bring the GodSpeaks.com #21 Chevrolet to the forefront at the .375 mile Douglass County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon this Saturday in the Toyota/Bi-Mart 150 presented by Napa Auto Parts.

Entering the June 6 event, Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team are currently 9th in the NASCAR Camping World West Championship point standings. Koch remains in a tight battle for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title with New Jersey native Paulie Harraka. Currently, Koch sits ninth overall in the west series point standings and in the second position in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, trailing Harraka by single digits in that contest.

"I'm ready for Oregon," said Koch. "I learned a ton in this race. Without the little mistakes that happened, we would have been a top 10 car. When we work out the kinks our team is going to be dangerous"

The fifth round of the series brought GGRT and the GodSpeaks.com #21 Chevrolet Team to the famed Iowa Speedway. The event was the only East-West combination race of the season, bringing the best drivers of both tours together in one barnstormer event. A special appearance brought Nextel Cup star Kyle Bush to the list of entrants to test his skill against the many future stars of NASCAR.

"When I got to Iowa the first thing I wanted to accomplish was getting to know the track, its just under a mile long and is super fast," said Koch. "Saturday I was sitting 32nd out of 37 cars in practice so I knew I had to pick up a lot of time before Sunday. I got to discuss the track and some things that could get me going faster with my crew chief and we moved up to 21st in practice by Sunday morning."

While Koch was 21st in the practice times, the GodSpeaks.com Chevrolet was a mere tenth of a second out of the top 15, illustrating the tight competition the East vs. West event would feature later in the day.

In qualifying, Koch posted his quickest time of the weekend, posting a 24.17 second lap. The effort would earn him the 22nd position on the roster and deep in the field for the start of the event.

"I laid down my fastest lap of the weekend," said Koch. "I was less then a tenth of a second out of the top 15 and ended up 22nd."

After qualifying, Koch participated in the event autograph session before some 30,000 race fans. Iowa Speedway is one of the most popular venues for the NASCAR Camping World Series as spectators have the opportunity to see the best drivers from both series'.

Following a rain delay, the feature race started and Koch quickly drove up to the 18th position prior to caution that flew during the first 30 laps of the event. In the next green flag run he advanced to the 14th position. Following a pit stop he neared the top ten positions but returned to his pit box for additional fuel, setting him back deep in the field once again.

"It was an unfortunate situation in the pits," said Koch. "But my crew chief determined we had not fueled the car enough to make the full run and had me come back in. So for the next 100 laps I as trying as hard as I could to make up lost ground."

Koch rallied back to the top 12 with 10 laps to go in the event. Although a top 12 finish would be an accomplishment considering the climb from the back, Koch gave the GodSpeaks.com #21 one final push that ended with a collision into the wall and a 16TH place finish overall.

"I had caught up to 11th and the team was happy with the way we things were going," said Koch. "As a racer 11th just wasn't good enough for me so I went all over for it. I ended up over driving the corner and putting myself into the wall. The car got some damage but I stayed out and passed three of the eight cars that passed me during the incident."

At the end of the day Koch finished 16th overall in the race and finished 9th in the West campaign. This Saturday he looks to rally back into the lead for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign and give the Golden Gate Racing Team and GodSpeaks.com a top finish.

"Blake learned a lot in this race," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team. "That's what Golden Gate Racing and the Richard Childress Racing Development program is all about. I'm sure we will run strong when we come back here later in the year with the Camping World Truck Series."

-credit: ggrt

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Paulie Harraka , Blake Koch
Teams Richard Childress Racing