Five car crash ends forward press for Koch and GGRT at Irwindale IRWINDALE, CA -- After a successful qualifying run that secured his first career starting position in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown, Blake Koch became a victim of...
Five car crash ends forward press for Koch and GGRT at Irwindale
IRWINDALE, CA -- After a successful qualifying run that secured his first career starting position in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown, Blake Koch became a victim of circumstances during the K&N Pro Series premier event at Irwindale Speedway Saturday night. Koch was unable to avoid a multi-car collision that broke out in front of the Daystar Network #21 Chevrolet and ended the night 81 laps prematurely for the Golden Gate --Richard Childress Racing Development Team.
"It was just an unfortunate situation, I have already committed to the high line before I knew about the wreck breaking out ahead," said Koch. "I couldn't have turned down to avoid it without taking others with me."
Koch started 21st in Saturday's event that is known as the "Daytona 500 of Short Track Racing" at the Southern California half mile speedway. During the first 100 lap segment of the race the sophomore NASCAR driver worked up as high as the 15th position in the first event with the team's title sponsorship of the Daystar Network.
The Toyota Showdown uses a unique format in which drivers race for 100 laps until the field is frozen and a 10 minute break takes place for teams to make adjustments and change tires. After an additional break with 200 laps down a final 25-lap segment produces an action packed shootout to the finish line. Unfortunately, The Golden Gate Racing Team spent those final laps surveying the damage endured by the unavoidable crash on lap 144.
Racing in the 20th position, Koch was approaching the second turn of the speedway and positioned his car on the outside line in an effort to gain track position and drive clear of lapped traffic. Several yards ahead, veteran driver Jim Inglebright spun up near the turn two wall and collected Josh Combs, Derek Ramstom, Brett Thompson and Koch. All of those involved with the exception of Inglebright were damaged beyond repair to return to the race.
"I really want to thank the entire Golden Gate Racing Team for all their hard work, " added Koch. "We had a really good car, especially on the longer runs. We just never got the track position we needed."
Koch ended the weekend in the 35th position Saturday night. He and the always diligent GGRT crew watched from the sidelines as NASCAR Cup driver Joey Logano went on to win a lengthy accident plagued event over newcomer Sergio Pena.
"We had a fast car for this race," said team owner Jim Offenbach. "The accident was a disappointing way to end our strong rung. I want to thank our sponsors and guarantee them that we are going to be running up front in 2010. I also want to that the entire GGRT crew. They worked hard to prepare for the showdown, I love these guys."
In preliminary competition at Irwindale, Koch drove to the 21st qualifying spot out of the 45 cars that attempted to qualify on Friday night. Koch was the 10th car to take the Irwindale half mile on Friday night and turned a lap time of 18:753, which secured the 21st qualifying position.
"Everything was going well," said Steve Portenga, Crew Chief for Golden Gate Racing. "We were the 8th fastest car in practice and drove through the field extremely well. At one point we even restarted 31st and climbed back up to 18th. We were doing our own thing, looking for those last 25 laps to give it our best. It was a good race with a disappointing end that was unavoidable."
With the All Star Showdown behind them, the Golden Gate Racing Team will now focus their sights on the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series Championship. The tour begins its 57th consecutive season on March 27th at All American Speedway in Roseville.
"The fortunate thing about the shootout, it wasn't our best car that got destroyed and it wasn't a points race," added Portenga. "Blake has come a long way since last season, especially in his feedback to the crew. We're looking forward to the regular season now."