WS: Iowa II: Blake Koch preview

Florida's Blake Koch has found his true calling as NASCAR driver SAN FRANCISCO, CA - As the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series West winds down to just two remaining races on the tour it is clear that Florida's Blake Koch has found his true calling...

Florida's Blake Koch has found his true calling as NASCAR driver

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - As the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series West winds down to just two remaining races on the tour it is clear that Florida's Blake Koch has found his true calling as a professional race car driver. In his rookie season behind the wheel of the #21 Chevrolet fielded by Golden Gate Racing and the Richard Childress Driver Development program, Koch is turning both laps and heads in the series that features the future stars of NASCAR.

Blake is fulfilling everything we have set out to accomplish and beyond in the Golden Gate Racing Team-Richard Childress Driver Development program," said Jim Offenbach, team owner of the San Francisco based Golden Gate Racing Team. "He is quickly becoming a very good race car driver. His ability to adapt to tracks he has never even been to and the little amount of actual race experience he had has made this a very exciting year for us. Blake is a pleasure to work with for this entire time."

A former motocrosser who resides in West Palm Beach, Koch competed in just a handful of races aboard speedway tracks and late model prior to being signed by Offenbach and Childress at the beginning of the 2009 racing season. Koch tested with the team at the conclusion of 2008 in the Camping World West finale last October at the All American Speedway in Roseville, California.

Going up against some of the best young NASCAR drivers in the western region, Koch made an impressive debut. He qualified fourth in the event and was destined for a top five run in the race until complications with the car's brakes late in the running caused him to settle for a 22nd place position. The outing was still impressive for Koch as many drivers don't even qualify for an event following several attempts.

Following that cool autumn night in California, the relationship between Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team was born. He was signed as the team's primary driver shortly thereafter and has been having great success within the tour.

"Blake shows great perseverance and patience," commented Offenbach. "A good driver can come back to the top even when the cards are down. Blake's determination and talent behind the wheel has all the makings for a future champion."

In the 2009 NASCAR Camping World West Series, Koch has started all ten of the events. He has qualified in the top ten a total of seven different times during the year. He has a single top finish to his name that took place at All American Speedway in Roseville, one of the few tracks where Koch has previous experience at. Koch has earned six top ten finishes and has finished in the top 14 in every event in which he has competed in.

One of the most impressive aspects of Koch's debut season has been his performance in the road racing segments of the season. In the three events that have taken place Koch has placed 8th, 12th and 9th. Prior to the season Koch has very little experience in a race car and virtually no experience at road racing.

"At the start of the season when we saw three road courses on the scheduled we were a little concerned," said Steve Portenga, veteran crew chief for the Golden Gate Racing Team. "After we completed them we were wishing there were a few more. Blake has an incredible ability to adapt to his surrounding. He is a good listener and is a very smart driver. It's truly a pleasure having him behind the wheel this year."

Entering the second to last race on the tour next month, Koch is eighth in the championship point standings and is in one of the most intense battles for the annual Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the history of the tour where he and fellow competitor Paulie Harraka sit a single digit apart.

In Koch's most recent event at the Colorado International Speedway he made a charge to the front of the field to take the lead for 17laps. He fell out of the lead when the #21 suffered a flat tire, forcing him to make a late pit stop. He rallied back to a 14th place finish despite the set back.

With a little more than a mere dozen total races under his belt, Koch's success is a clear illustration that he is one of the few individuals in life that has found what his true calling is. Much like the great Dale Earnhardt, who also drove for Childress for much of his racing career, Koch is a born talent behind the wheel.

In addition to the success on the track and in the season stats, Koch is also a true ambassador of the sport and his sponsors, something that is a requirement in today's sport and current economic times.

In his rookie season Koch carries the title sponsorship of and his voice in the auto racing industry has brought a great deal of response to the non-profit organization as well as his many associate sponsorships.

"I've always a strong faith in God. After all is it God that has given me the ability and the opportunity to do this," said Koch. "I came into this campaign prepared to represent them well. In these cars we are driving well over 100 miles per hour, how could you now be close to God before doing something like this. I am grateful for the year we have been having and I look forward to the future with all of my sponsors."

While is the title sponsor of Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team, a number of associate sponsors have completed the package this year for the team. Among the many partners of the team is the DayStar Television Network, Bay Bio Diesel, Salt Life, NOS Energy Drink, and the Richard Childress Racing Driver Development Program.

Koch will return to the track on September 4 when the NASCAR Camping World Series returns to Iowa Speedway. In his previous visit to the famed track Koch drove from the 22nd starting position to ninth.J

The series will conclude on September 26 at All American Speedway in Roseville where Koch previously earned fifth place. With strong finishes at both of these facilities earlier this season, Koch is well prepared to close complete this season as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year and set the stage for a championship run in 2010.

-credit: ggrt

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paulie Harraka , Steve Portenga , Blake Koch
Teams Richard Childress Racing