WS: Phoenix: Blake Koch preview

Koch ready to drive GGRT Daystar Television Network ...

Koch ready to drive GGRT Daystar Television Network #21 to victory in Jimmie Johnson 100 at Phoenix International

AVONDALE, AZ (4-4-10) - West Palm Beach Florida's Blake Koch is ready to take drive the Daystar Television Network #21 Chevrolet to the front of the field thisThursday in the valley of the sun as the Golden Gate Racing- Richard Childress Racing Development returns to the Phoenix International Raceway for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100. The lightning fast one-mile PIR will host the second round of the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour in this special weeknight venue.

During his rookie season in 2009, Phoenix was where Koch discovered he had a niche for the larger, faster tracks on the tour. With just a handful of stock car races under his belt he drove Golden Gate and RCR to seventh place after starting 15th in the field and falling to the rear after a spin in the race. It was the first time Koch had competed on large track such as Phoenix and one could only count the number of NASCAR starts he had made at that time on a single hand.

"I have never felt as confident in my life as I do going into Phoenix," said Koch. "We ran seventh there last year and even then I came from the back after a spin at a time when I really had zero experience on a track larger than a half mile." Last season, the Phoenix event played a large part in Koch's success in the NASCAR West series. At the end of the year he clinched 8th place overall in the series standings and was runner up in the coveted Sunoco Rookie of the Year chase with eventual winner Paulie Harraka.

With a single event completed on the 2010 NASCAR K&N Series tour, Koch and GGRT are picking up where they left off last season. Two weeks ago in the series opener at All American Speedway in Roseville, Koch suffered a crash while racing for the fifth position in the final corner of the race. Despite a hard collision he salvaged a 10th place at the line which eventually became a ninth place outing with the second place finisher of the event was penalized after failing post-race technical inspection.

With the ninth place position in the current point standings, Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team could very well use the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100 as a launching point to begin their push into the top five point standings as they chase the 2010 series championship utilizing some of the best equipment available in the sport that is maintained by one of the most talented crews in the series and overseen by talented crew chief Steve Portenga.

"Steve knows how to make a car go around Phoenix fast and I know I will make the most of that," added Koch. "The larger tracks really reflect your equipment and resources. Golden Gate Racing and Richard Childress have good equipment so you can expect to see us up front."

As Koch takes to Phoenix mile this week, he won't be alone in the Golden Gate stable. Defending series champion Jason Bowles of Ontario, California has been added to the GGRT/RCR team for a select number of events on the upcoming season. Bowles will be aboard the team's second car, the #31 Richard Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma Chevrolet owned by Patti Offenbach.

"I really think adding the second car to our program could be helpful," said Koch. "We don't get a lot of practice in this series so being able to share notes and work together will be good."

While Koch and Bowles will share knowledge in Thursday's race, the event will also mark the first time Koch returns to a large track since 2009. Aside from his success in the previous NASCAR West campaign, Koch spent time late last year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he competed a Memphis Motorsports Park and Homestead Miami.

"Racing those events late last year definitely helped me prepare for this season," said Koch, who also made his first ARCA Road Course start last month. "Staying active behind the wheel helps you stay sharp and focused and running those tracks definitely will help me as we return to Phoenix. Every bit of seat time you can get helps."

Reflecting on the success of last year at Phoenix and their recent finish in Roseville that put them in the top ten of the point standings entering just the second round of competition, Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team, is confident his team will do well in Phoenix.

"We are going to give it our all to take the green flag in Phoenix and hopefully cross the checkered flag with a one two punch for the #21 and the #31," said Offenbach. "The GGRT-RCR team has been working very hard to prepare for this event. Watch for both cars to put on a great show for the fans. We really want to thank Richard Childress for all of his support with this team."

-source: ggrt

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Drivers Paulie Harraka , Jimmie Johnson , Steve Portenga , Jason Bowles , Blake Koch
Teams Richard Childress Racing