Koch muscles Golden Gate Racing-RCR ...
Koch muscles Golden Gate Racing-RCR #21 to third in Roseburg
ROSEBURG, OR - Entering the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 at Douglass County Speedway, Blake Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team had a mutual goal in mind; to put the Daystar Television Network #21 Chevrolet to the front of the field and continue their rally in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings. When the checkered flag waved, the mission of this competitive Richard Childress Racing Development team was deemed complete.
"This entire team has come together so well, everyone is beginning to gel with one another and it's starting to show in the results," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team following their impressive third place Saturday. "Blake is communicating really well over the radio with us now and he's applying that communication to his driving. I'm really proud of all of these guys these past two weeks; we've really made a strong comeback."
On Saturday it was apparent that the Golden Gate Racing Team was going to be a strong contender in round three of the 12 race NASCAR K&N Pro Series West campaign. In the first practice of the day Koch posted the ninth fastest lap of the day with a speed of 85.136 mph. The team improved on the second effort, moving up to the seventh spot with a speed of 85.136.
"The guys had the car almost perfect from the start, they worked hard all day long to get it dialed in," said Koch. "After practice I was very confident we were going to turn a solid qualifying lap."
In qualifying, Koch did just that. He drove the Daystar Television Network #21 to a top speed of 87.571 miles per hour to secure the fourth starting position with a lap time of 15:416 seconds. The Golden Gate Racing Team's most successful race of the season was off and running with the completion of the preliminary events.
Koch started the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 in strong company. Point leader David Mayhew sat on the pole with former champion Eric Holmes on the outside and hot shoe Jonathan Gomez started on the inside of Koch. With the waving of the green flag Holmes went to battle with Mayhew for the lead while Koch set his sights on his eventual career best NASCAR finish.
During the event Koch remained in the top ten and slipped back as far as the seventh position late in the race. Despite being spun around in the closing laps the 24-year West Palm Beach native rallied back to the fourth position. He then put the hammer down on one final green flag restart on lap 135 to overtake Paulie Harraka for the third position before the checkered flag waved.
"We knew we had one last chance to gain a position. Paulie is a tough racer and I knew I had to take advantage of anything I could to gain a position," said Koch. "I sucked up to David Mayhew's bumper there on the restart and was able to pull around Paulie. He ran me clean and really appreciated that. We both raced hard for the rookie title last year and have a lot of respect for one another. This was a great finish for us, we worked hard all day but that last restart is what really did it for us here."
Saturday's third place was the best NASCAR finish for Koch. It marks his second top five finish of the season and his third top ten. Following a strong comeback two weeks ago in Iowa followed by Saturday's impressive run, the Golden Gate Racing Team is undoubtedly back in the hunt for the series championship. After Saturday, Koch has advanced into seventh in the standings.
"I give God all the glory for this third place finish today," said Koch. "This is all his doing by using this incredible team and its great sponsors to succeed. I'm really happy with our finish today and I'm ready to head to California.
In less than two weeks, the Golden Gate Racing Team will return to the track closest to home with two cars in competition. Joining Koch for the event in the Sonoma Wine Country will be 2010 Series Champion Jason Bowles who will make his second start of the year with GGRT/RCR. Bowles is the 2009 Sonoma race winner and will be aboard the Patti Offenbach-Richard Childress Racing #31.