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Strong day for Golden Gate Racing at Infineon Koch and O'Keefe drive to impressive finishes in road course racing debut during Bennett Lane Winery 200 at Infineon SONOMA -- The Golden Gate Racing Team and Richard Childress Racing Development are...

Strong day for Golden Gate Racing at Infineon
Koch and O'Keefe drive to impressive finishes in road course racing debut during Bennett Lane Winery 200 at Infineon

SONOMA -- The Golden Gate Racing Team and Richard Childress Racing Development are proud to announce a weekend of great success in the Bennett Lane Winery 200 at Infineon Raceway.

With two drivers competing in their very first road course events, the checkered flag waved at the end of the day with primary driver Blake Koch placing 11th in the GodSpeaks.com #21 Chevrolet and Pat O'Keefe placing 18th in the Bay BioDiesel #31 Chevrolet. Both drivers charged from deep in the field to earn their respective finishes.

"This is an owners dream, we ran in the top ten for much of the race and without a scratch on the either car," said team owner Jim Offenbach. "Both cars did well and I am proud of Blake and Pat. Not only was this Blake's first road course, it was Pat's first NASCAR Camping World West Road Course event this year and he finished 18th respectively. I'm very proud of this whole team"

Koch qualified 23rd for Saturday's race and once again illustrated great patience throughout the day to carefully work his way through the twists and turns of the 11-turn road course in the hills of Sonoma. Despite an early misjudged pit stop, Koch became the highest finishing rookie in the race, earning the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award for the second time this season.

"I'm really happy with the way our day turned out, I didn't know what to expect coming into a road course with no experience at all," said Koch. "When I started the race I thought we had an ignition problem and came in which was unfortunate. Had I switched over the back up system I think I could have been in the top ten. But I'm very happy with this finish. I have to thank Steve Portenga (crew chief) and God for all of their guidance here."

A former driver himself, Portenga is known for his great communication with Golden Gate Racing Team's drivers and crew. Saturday was no exception as he walked Koch through every turn and twist over the radio. In the end he too was impressed with the outcome.

"Our mission was accomplished in Sonoma , we did exactly what we set out to do," said Portenga. "Blake was very careful, we had a good strong finish and we ended up moving up a spot in the point standings and taking the rookie lead over again. I was happy with both cars, Pat was out there to have a good time and he did just that. He stayed out of trouble and moved up really well. Both cars came back from Infineon intact, I'm happy with the way these guys performed."

Saturday's event was one of the few that take place during the year in which the Camping World West Series and the Sprint Cup Series compete on the same weekend. It's events like this that provide Richard Childress, President of Richard Childress Racing, an opportunity to watch his development drivers, such as Koch, from the top of the pit box and view the team's progress in person.

b^0x001cBlake proved he is up to any challenge we throw at him," said Childress. "I was impressed how he handled this tough road course."

Following Saturday's success, Koch and the Godspeaks.com #21 Chevrolet are now eighth in the overall NASCAR Camping World West Series point standings. Seven races are complete in the 13 race campaign. Koch earned the Sunoco Rookie of the race award for the second time this season after becoming the highest finishing rookie driver in Saturday's race.

For O'Keefe, Saturday was not only his first road course, it marked his first race of the year behind the wheel of Offenbach 's second car. The Pleasant Hill resident who is the vice president of longtime team sponsor Bay BioDiesel qualified 37th and finished 18th at the end of the day.

"We had a great time," said O'Keefe, a former successful Jet Ski racer and Grand American Modified driver. "I learned a ton during the race. We are happy with the finish and the car came home in one piece."

O'Keefe is scheduled to race a limited number of races with Golden Gate throughout the season.

-credit: ggrt

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Steve Portenga , Blake Koch
Teams Richard Childress Racing