Koch and Golden Gate Racing team roll a lucky seven at Douglas County's NAPA 150/BI Mart `50 to earn Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award ROSEBURG, OR -- A trip to the Pacific Northwest garnered a weekend of success for the Golden Gate...
Koch and Golden Gate Racing team roll a lucky seven at Douglas County's NAPA 150/BI Mart `50 to earn Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award
ROSEBURG, OR -- A trip to the Pacific Northwest garnered a weekend of success for the Golden Gate Racing/Richard Childress Racing Driver Development team in the NASCAR Camping World West Series. The magic number of the race was seven as driver Blake Koch muscled the GodSpeaks.com #21 Chevrolet to seventh positions in practice, qualifying and the 150 lap feature in the NAPA/Bi Mart 150 at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon .
"Blake and the entire Godspeaks.com team did a great job, with as little experience as blake has and never being at these tracks," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team which fields the GodSpeaks.com #21 in the Richard Childress Racing Development program. "All of us at Golden Gate Racing and RCR are very pleased."
During practice for Saturday's event, the sixth segment of the Camping World West campaign, crew chief Steve Portenga and the talented Golden Gate Racing Team crew had the Godspeaks.com #21 dialed to near perfection for Koch. The first year NASCAR driver went out for the warm up session and clocked the seventh fastest lap of the day with a 15:532 second lap on the .375 mile track. Koch's top speed was 86.917 miles per hour.
In qualifying, the team rolled their second seven of the night as Koch clocked in the seventh position with a lap time of 15:536. Top speed during qualifying was recorded at 86.875 miles per hour. The time placed Koch one position ahead of fellow driver Paulie Harraka, his closest competitor in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contest.
"The car was great for me, Steve Portenga and the whole crew did a great job," said Koch. "Steve is doing an incredible job as my crew chief, my spotter and my racing mentor. What great guy."
When the green flag flew for the start of the feature race, Koch's fare luck that graced him during the preliminary program went array when he suffered a spin on the opening lap, but the misfortune didn't set him back for long.
"We had such a good day going for us I couldn't believe it," said Koch. "The first lap I got spun around. But it didn't do any damage and I was able to recover without losing a lap."
Koch quickly recovered and fell back into position deep in the field. Just a few laps later the race went under caution after Harraka went off the track in turn 3 with damage and scattered debris on the racing surface. During the seventh lap, Koch pitted under the yellow flag and the crew went to work making the necessary adjustments that would prepare him for the forthcoming rally back to the top ten.
Upon his return to the track Koch began advancing through the field. With 11 laps down he was 13th and used great patience to begin working his way back into the top ten. Driving his way as high as the sixth position, Koch would settle for a seventh position after former champion Mike David passed him on the 128th lap.
Ending the day with his seventh place position, Koch was awarded the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award and is now tied in the Rookie points with Harraka heading into the seventh round of competition at Infineon Raceway on June 20.
"It was good to make up some ground on the rookie points," said Koch, who will head to the teams closest race to home for the first of three road course events next week. "This next race is important for us. I give God and my crew all the credit for this comeback from 17th to 7th place."
In the upcoming event at Infineon, Golden Gate Racing will field two cars; the primary car of Blake Koch will be joined by the second team car, the #31 that will be driven by GGRT Crew member and longtime sponsor, Pat O'Keefe of Bay Bio Diesel. Additional information on this event will be announced in the coming days.