Golden Gate Racing Team brings GodSpeaks.com ...
Golden Gate Racing Team brings GodSpeaks.com #21 to eleventh place finish in Texas NASCAR Camping World Opener
KYLE TEXAS -- The San Francisco based Richard Childress Racing Development -Golden Gate Racing Team clearly illustrated that they are a top contender in the 2009 NASCAR Camping World West Series following the series opener at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle Texas. Primary driver Blake Koch of West Palm Beach Florida and the entire Golden Gate Racing Team came together to cap the opening weekend as the GodSpeaks.com-Bay Bio Diesel #21 placed well in practice, qualifying and survived an incident plagued feature race to finish one notch out of the top ten.
"We made leaps and bounds since the Irwindale Showdown back in January," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the San Francisco based Golden Gate Racing Team. " Blake is a very quick learner and to go out there after only one practice session and qualify fourth and then run in the top ten most of the night I'm proud to say the GodSpeaks.com-Bay Bio Diesel team had a great debut."
With rain threatening to dampen the event, NASCAR Camping World officials kept the program moving at a fast pace on the .375 mile oval. Koch only had one opportunity to practice for the event, which was just his third time behind the wheel of a NASCAR Camping World machine.
With the help of crew chief Steve Portenga, a three year veteran of GGRT, Koch made the best of each available moment in the rushed practice session. Before the checkered flag waved Koch was ranked seventh with a fastest lap time of 15.277 seconds, just .258 off the pace of Moses Smith who led the practice session.
"We were really close on set up right out of the hauler," said Koch. "It was my first time on that track and it took me about four laps to get it down. Steve (Portenga) and I walked the track and talked about the line before the practice session and that really helped."
Due to threatening weather in the area and a lengthy late model event prior to the running of the Allstate 150, the second practice session was cancelled and Koch went out to qualify an impressive fourth place. Koch's lap time was 15.444 seconds, just .31 seconds off the pole position.
"I was really happy with the fourth place in qualifying," said Koch. "But I had to start on the outside for the race and there was no grip out there."
When it comes to adversity, Koch and the Golden Gate crew always manage to persevere. From the waving of the green flag, Koch wasted no time in settling into the lower line of the track and maintained the 4th position for the first 30 laps of race. Ten laps later a caution flag flew, forcing a restart that placed Koch on the outside of the track for the second time of the night.
With the restart, Koch used caution and patience to eventually find his way back to the lower line of the track. The process cost him several positions but he rallied back to the 4th position before being spun by a competitor and forced to power his way through traffic once again. With only two laps remaining, Koch had charged back toward the top five just when additional mayhem broke out and he was struck from behind and sent spinning to draw a caution flag. Despite the incident, Koch ended the event with an 11th place finish.
"With about 15-laps to go it was hard to hang on to the car," said Koch. "I had gotten really loose due to the fact that I wore it out being on the outside of the racetrack with no grip for at least 75 laps of a 150 lap race. I learned a ton at this race. We had a top five car for sure, we just had some bad breaks throughout the race. Steve (Portenga) gave me a couple of things I need to improve on so I am really going to work hard on those areas."
With one event down and 12 remaining, Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team currently maintain the 11th position in the series point standings. The next event will bring the GodSpeaks.com-Bay BioDiesel-Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to All American Speedway in Roseville on April 4th. Koch made his Camping World Series debut with Golden Gate Racing at Roseville late last year. After the Texas event, Portenga is confident that Koch is ready to return to Roseville.
"In Texas we unloaded fast and Blake took to the track well. The GGRT guys gave him a very good car," said Portenga. "Blake learned a lot and the team can go to Roseville with their heads high."