WS: Irwindale: Blake Koch race report

Koch garners career best second place finish in King Taco 200 SAN FRANCISCO, CA (7-5-10) -- As the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West progresses, so does Blake Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team. This past weekend the sophomore NASCAR driver and...

Koch garners career best second place finish in King Taco 200

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (7-5-10) -- As the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West progresses, so does Blake Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team. This past weekend the sophomore NASCAR driver and this Richard Childress Racing Development team drove to all new heights at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California. Koch drove the Daystar Television Network #21 Chevrolet to a career best second place finish in the King Taco 200.

For Koch, the bridesmaid finish is a career best and could not have taken place at a better time as the NASCAR West Series edges past the halfway mark. This 12 race series features the NASCAR stars of tomorrow and produces some of the most intense door to door racing action in the sport. Saturday night was no exception as the fireworks flew at Irwindale over the Independence Day and the Golden Gate Racing Team ignited their quest through the top ten point standings of the tour.

"I'm really proud of this team and their performance at Irwindale," said Jim Offenbach, owner of Golden Gate Racing. "Blake did an outstanding job out on the track. Steve Portenga and this team built perfect car and everything just came together perfectly. This is a tough track and everyone runs hard here. I think we showed how competitive we are in this series as an entire team."

Koch started fifth in Saturday's 200 lap affair after turning in a top speed of 96:603 in qualifying. From the moment the green flag waved, the Daystar Television Network #21 was a contender for the win, even leading 10 laps of the race and continuing to be a top runner in the closing circuits, despite race worn tires that put Koch on the competitive edge that entertained thousands of fans at the impressive Southern California facility.

In the opening laps of the race, Koch maintained his fifth place starting position and began charging his way towards the front behind eventually winner Auggie Vidovich of Lakeside, California. By the 40-lap mark he muscled his way into the third position. Two laps later, early race leader Greg Pursley collided into the backstretch wall and allowed Vidovich to advance into the lead with Koch in pursuit as the event underwent a caution period.

When the green flag waved again the battle between Vidovich and and Koch heated up. With 50 laps complete, Koch worked his way passed Vidovich for the lead and maintained the point for the next ten laps until Vidovich regained the lead.

With 101 laps complete a restart tightened the field and allowed David Mayhew and Brennan Newberry to move in and challenge Koch. The four car battle for the lead was hotter than the fireworks in the sky as Mayhew stole second place from Koch for several laps before Koch redeemed the position and continued to pressure Vidovich for the lead again. Moses Smith was the next driver take a test run in the bridesmaid position, only to have Koch take it back just moments later.

In the final 20-laps of the race, Newberry managed his way into second place but Koch never gave up. With his tires well worn, Koch continued to pressure Newberry for the second spot as the duo sliced and diced behind Vidovich in the final laps. With just two laps to go Koch moved back into second place behind Vidovich to score his career best second place finish.

"It felt really good to run up front," said Koch, who strapped into a brand new car built by the GGRT/RCR team for the event. "The team worked really hard to get this new car ready and it was just awesome. I can't wait to run this car again."

In the closing laps, Koch was well aware that tire wear was a factor for all of the top contenders in the race. The resident of West Palm Beach Florida displayed true finesse en route to the checkered flag as he remained competitive, but saved his tires to the best to his ability.

"I tried really hard to stay with the leader without burning my stuff up, but I couldn't do both," he added. "It seemed like every time I had to go to the bottom of the track to either try and pass for the lead or get through lapped traffic, it just wore the tires out. Running 200 laps on the same left side tires was a lot."

Entering the Taco King 200, Koch was tenth in the NASCAR K&N Series West point standing. With his second place run he rallied back to seventh place and is setting his sights on a victory in the upcoming road course event at Portland International Raceway on July 18.

"The whole weekend went really positive and it was a blast," said Koch. "I know we have a good chance of winning in Portland. We were really fast there last year before we had an issue with the sway bar in the race."

-source: ggrt

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Drivers Moses Smith , Steve Portenga , Greg Pursley , Auggie Vidovich , David Mayhew , Blake Koch , Brennan Newberry
Teams Richard Childress Racing