WS: Sonoma: Blake Koch race report

Collision takes Koch and GGRT out of Infineon run SONOMA, CA (6-19-10) -- The event was shaping up to be a storybook ending for the Golden Gate Racing Team at Infineon Raceway Saturday afternoon. With both of their drivers leading laps, it ...

Collision takes Koch and GGRT out of Infineon run

SONOMA, CA (6-19-10) -- The event was shaping up to be a storybook ending for the Golden Gate Racing Team at Infineon Raceway Saturday afternoon. With both of their drivers leading laps, it appeared the San Francisco based NASCAR K&N Pro Series West team was destined for a pair of top finishes. Lady luck had a different idea and in her wrath, brought a sudden end to extremely strong run by Blake Koch in the Daystar Television Network GGRT/RCR #21.

"The race had its ups and downs for sure. This whole team did a great job all day long," said Koch. "It wasn't such a good points day for us in the end but we learned a lot from the day as we head to the next road race."

Koch qualified 14th for Saturday's Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 after he driver the Daystar Television Network Chevrolet that carries the support of Richard Childress Racing Development to a top speed of 79:610 on the twists and turns of the 1.99 mile road coarse in the scenic Sonoma valley. For Koch, the qualifying lap put him in the middle of the field for Saturday's race.

In past road course events, Koch has been recognized as a driver with great ability to work his way to the front of the field rapidly, even if he starts deep in the line up. Saturday was no exception as he wasted no time in advancing towards the front of the field after pitting for fuel only on lap 14.

By the 17th Lap the West Palm Beach resident began working his way into the top ten positions. He moved into 8th place on the 18th lap and advanced to sixth one lap later. On lap 21 he broke into the top five when he overtook the fourth place position before the event underwent the caution flag. On lap 23 Koch moved into the lead of the event when he overtook Michael Self and maintained the top position for the next six laps, battling with Self, David Gilliland and eventual race winner Andrew Ranger for the top positions.

After a strong showing well beyond the halfway point of the race the closing laps became the opposite for Koch as he became the victim of a collision that ultimately ended the team's top run. While traveling through turn 11, the rear of Koch's car was struck hard by Todd Souza. The initial contact disrupted the sheet metal on the rear quarter panel and the second strike tore the rear panel off of the car just before the drive train failed, forcing him to a rolling half on pit nearby pit road.

"Something broke in the rear end," said crew chief Steve Portenga. "It was probably from the collision. He got into the rear end of the car quite a ways and the back and forth motion could have done it. It's too bad, we were really having a strong day."

Koch wasn't the only team member that was bitten by hard luck on Saturday. Jason Bowles, driver of the GGRT/RCR #31 ran short on fuel just 100 feet from the finish line while running second. He finished 22nd overall.

"I just can't believe the way this day started and the way it ended," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team. "We had such a strong run. Blake did a great job of getting up to the front. He led some laps here and showed just how strong this team is. It was just a misfortunate incident that ended a strong points day. I believe both Blake and Jason had top five cars, if not better here today. I'm very happy with the way they performed. Steve and I both feel running the second car made us more successful as a team as we were able to share information between crew chiefs and work together."

Koch and GGRT have two top five finishes and three top tens in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Following their recent rally to the front, Koch is now 10th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West point standings. In two weeks the team returns to Toyota Speedway in Irwindale on July 3 for the 6th segment of this 12 race series.

-source: ggrt

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Andrew Ranger , David Gilliland , Jason Bowles , Michael Self , Blake Koch
Teams Richard Childress Racing