Koch drives to 10th in NASCAR West opener Last turn collision nets top ten finish for Koch and GGRT in NASCAR K&N Pro Series opener at All American Speedway ROSEVILLE, CA- The Golden Gate Racing - Richard Childress Racing Development Team began...
Koch drives to 10th in NASCAR West opener
Last turn collision nets top ten finish for Koch and GGRT in NASCAR K&N Pro Series opener at All American Speedway
ROSEVILLE, CA- The Golden Gate Racing - Richard Childress Racing Development Team began their drive to the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship Saturday night in Roseville, California. Despite a last lap crash, driver Blake Koch of West Palm Beach Florida drove the Daystar Television Network #21 Chevrolet to a 10th place finish in the Toyota/Napa Auto Parts Challenge 150 presented by A-All Mini Storage at the All American Speedway.
From the time the first practice started on Saturday, Jim Offenbach's veteran Golden Gate Racing Team was hard at work trying to perfect the DayStar Television Network #21 Chevrolet. Being the first race of the season, the car required a good share of set up changes throughout the afternoon to prepare for the first of 12 races in the K&N Pro Series campaign on one of the tour's most competitive tracks.
"We fought a really tight race car all night long," said Koch. "A couple of things went wrong in practice so we didn't really get it dialed in like we wanted to but we were still pretty fast in practice considering I was really fighting the car."
In both practice sessions on Saturday, Koch clocked the fifth slot of the day with a best speed of 85.849 in the final practice on the .333 mile banked oval. The crew continued to make numerous adjustments throughout the final practice session in an attempt to get every bit of speed out of the #21 Impala for the high action short track battle that would begin later in the evening.
In qualifying, Koch's top five consistencies continued. He turned a lap time of 13.926 at a speed of 86.084 miles per hour. The effort earned them the fourth qualifying position, positioning them on the outside of the second row for the green flag of the event. Paulie Harraka of Wayne, N.J. earned the pole in the race with a top speed of 87.198 miles per hour.
After rolling out in the fourth starting position, Koch focused on maintaining a top five stance throughout the race. All American Speedway is tight in nature and provides little passing room when it comes to the fire breathing cars of NASCAR's West division and the last thing the team wanted was to put themselves in a situation where they would have to rally back towards the front late in the event.
While Harraka drove to the lead position and began to battle with second place starter Jonathan Gomez. Koch took the green flag and raced close with top five starters David Mayhew and Josh Combs in the early laps of the event. He faded back a couple of positions in the event but kept the top five in his sights for the entire race.
With the waving of the white flag, Koch made one final push towards the front as they raced in traffic towards the checkered flag. Battling for the fifth position, he exited the fourth turn when Greg Pursley spun in front of him, leaving little room to avoid a collision. Koch struck Pursley and damaged the front end but still managed to finish in the 10th position despite the collision approaching the checkered flag.
"I moved up to the high groove of the race track and the car was working better up there and I managed to get back in the hunt for fifth again," said Koch. Going into the last turn for the checkers the 26 car spun in front of me and just drilled him. It's unfortunate for the team and our sponsors but we will take a top ten finish after a hit like that."
Finishing in the 10th position placed Koch 10th in the K&N Pro Series championship standings. Although the team sought a win in the opener or a top five finish, starting the year off with a top ten is a solid start for a championship run.
"The finish was unfortunate for us yes," said crew chief Steve Portenga. "But we finished 10th and we start the series off 10th in points and that's where we want to be. We can go forward from here."
The next event for the Golden Gate Racing Team will be April 8th at Phoenix International Raceway. The event is the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100 and one of two visits to Phoenix in the season to come.