WS: Phoenix: Blake Koch race report

Crash ends Koch's run in Phoenix Crash takes Blake Koch and the GGRT-Daystar ...

Crash ends Koch's run in Phoenix

Crash takes Blake Koch and the GGRT-Daystar #21 out of contention in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100 in Phoenix

JAVONDALE, AZ (4-8-10) -- Blake Koch and the Golden Gate Racing Team arrived at Phoenix International Raceway with the hopes of rallying back to the front following a crash in the season opener in Roseville, California last month. At no fault of their own, the team was forced to postpone that rally for one more month as a collision removed the Daystar Television #21 Chevrolet out of contention in the Jimmy Johnson Foundation 100.

"This season has not been what we expected. We have three races and three heavily damaged race cars, none of which were Blake's doing," said Steve Portenga, crew chief for the Golden Gate Racing --Richard Childress Driver Development #21. "We've just had a couple cases of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The crew did an awesome job in Phoenix as they always do. We will get busy back at the shop and be hard at work to get ready for Iowa. We all need to keep our heads up, everyone works hard on this team and we've just had some bad luck."

Koch qualified 20th in Thursday's event, turning a 29.499 second lap at 122.038 miles per hour on the fast one mile tri-oval in the valley of the sun. With a starting position so deep in the field the 24-year-old sophomore NASCAR driver knew that patience would be a virtue in his drive to the front. At the waving of the green flag the Florida native began making a cautious climb to the front while communicating with Portenga and his spotter from the waving of the green flag.

As he was working his way towards the top ten, Koch's race ended on the 41st lap when fellow racer Paulie Harraka went to the inside of the second turn to pass the Daystar Chevrolet. As Harraka pulled to the inside he struck Koch sending him into a spin that concluded with a serious collision that collected Harraka into the wall. Immediately following the incident Harraka reportedly radioed to his crew that the right front tire on his car exploded just as he went to the inside of Koch.

"It was definitely unfortunate for us, it really hurt us in the points chase," said Koch, still sore two days after the incident that heavily damaged the team's best car. "The 12 car got into us just as we were getting into turn one. It was just a racing incident. I know Paulie and he wouldn't do anything like that on purpose, he is a great driver and I have a lot of respect for him. We just have to keep our heads up and go to Iowa looking to run up front."

While Koch is relatively new as a NASCAR driver, he is driving for a team that has decades of success. The Golden Gate Racing Team and Richard Childress Development utilize the best equipment and employ only the best associates in all aspects of their organization. Team owner Jim Offenbach has been influential in the development of many young drivers and knows that every bit of good fortune comes with its share of misfortune.

"We had a good run going when Blake and the Daystar #21 were taken out of contention," said Offenbach. "This is a tough break for us but the one thing this team has is a lot of drive and whole lot of faith. We're going to keep that faith strong and look forward to having a strong run in Iowa next month."

-source: ggrt

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Drivers Paulie Harraka , Jimmie Johnson , Steve Portenga , Blake Koch