Koch Finishes Strong in ARCA Racing Series Debut During Rain-Shortened Tire Kingdom 150 JUPITER, Florida (Saturday, February 27, 2010) - Blake Koch, driver of the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Tire Kingdom Toyota, finished third in the inaugural...
Koch Finishes Strong in ARCA Racing Series Debut During Rain-Shortened Tire Kingdom 150
JUPITER, Florida (Saturday, February 27, 2010) - Blake Koch, driver of the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Tire Kingdom Toyota, finished third in the inaugural ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards race at Palm Beach International Raceway. The Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace proved to be an extra special event for Koch, who was honored by having the title sponsor of the race support his first ARCA Series appearance.
After just 11 laps in an ARCA Series car, he impressed his competitors by qualifying third. The road-course qualifying differed from normal formats, with groups of 5 drivers qualifying on the road course at one time. Koch, however, missed his qualifying group and was forced to start the race at the back of the pack.
The threat of rain showers loomed over the 2.034-mile road course prior to the 1 PM start time, but the race got underway without delay.
Although he started at the back, Koch worked his way up to ninth place by lap 6 as the rain began to cover the entire course. A full-course caution fell on lap 6, however Koch and the No. 6 team decided not to come into to pit road to change to "wet" tires because the shower appeared to be moving quickly.
On lap 11, the No. 6 Tire Kingdom Toyota gained speed and continued to push past much of the top-ten. Koch hit his fastest speed of 91.929 MPH on lap 15, completing the lap in just 79.222 seconds. Rain began to fall more furiously, but Koch continued to push on without rain tires as he moved up to the fourth position on lap 19.
"We had a real good car, especially in the dry conditions," Koch said. "Then, it started coming down hard. "
As the rain worsened, an all-course yellow-flag fell once again on lap 21. Pit road opened the next lap as Koch came in for his first ARCA Series pit stop, along with the rest of the leaders, to get gas and four "wet" tires. The team utilized the Hooiser Short Track Radial "Slick" tires, and this was the first time in the 58-year series history a "wet" tire compound was used.
Koch was determined to work his way to the front after a successful pit stop, and by lap 26, the No. 6 was in second. At the half-way marker, the rain began to subside, and Koch settled in at the third position, remaining there for the duration of the race.
As the rain began to pick up again on lap 57, the No. 6 pitted for a "gas-and-go" stop. By lap 67, Koch began to complain that the rain was coming down so hard that he could not see through his windshield. His two spotters helped guide him through the track successfully as the final caution fell on lap 68.
Series officials were forced to end the race five laps short of the original distance, throwing the checkered flag on lap 70 of the 75 laps advertised. Koch finished in third behind Justin Marks and Robb Brent.
"We put that rain tire on, and none of us were set up for it," said Koch. "But, for a road course in the rain, I'm happy with a third. I'll take it. I just want to thank Tire Kingdom, Eddie Sharp Racing, and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Owner Eddie Sharp agreed that the rain was not easy to overcome; however he is proud of Koch's first showing in the ARCA Racing Series. "Koch showed determination in his first race. I am proud of his third-place finish, and his team did a great job keeping up with the leaders."
-source: eddie sharp racing