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Daytona Race Was a ‘Huge, Huge Deal’ for Koch

209 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jgBowyerfan

By Kristen Schneider

Blake Koch wheeled the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro to a ninth place finish in the XFINITY Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. The driver—who has made 148 starts in XFINITY since 2009—fell back early in the race and waited for the right moment to charge toward the front.
“We decided that if we got shuffled back, we would play it safe,” Koch told POPULAR SPEED, adding, “I found myself in the middle of the pack, and I saw [Aric] Almirola falling back. I followed him, and we formed a little two-car pack where we were far enough behind but close enough to keep up.”
Although he didn’t win, Koch is thrilled about a specific milestone: the finish is the driver’s first top-10 in his XFINITY career—something that has been a long time coming.
“You know, I’ve made about 150 starts … it is a huge, huge deal for me,” Koch said about the feat. “Going into this season, [Koch and team owner Matt Kaulig] wanted to build a championship-caliber team over the next few years. We’re not starting up and expecting to win races.”
However, the most rewarding thing was giving his long-time sponsor and friend something to celebrate.
“It’s very, very rewarding to see the smile on [Matt] and my team’s face. It’s important to me that [Kaulig] is having fun.”
Calling Kaulig Racing a ‘start up’ is an understatement; Kaulig decided during the offseason he wanted to form a race team. With his company LeafFilter sponsoring Koch since 2014, Kaulig knew his business partner and friend was the man for the job. Koch suggested Chris Rice for the position as crew chief.
Rice—who has 12 years of experience in the sport—also acts as the organization’s general manager and director of competition. Add that to the alliance with Richard Childress Racing, and it is no surprise the team is already competitive.
“We have an alliance with RCR, we’re getting our engines from ECR,” Koch said. “That’s been a tremendous help.”
The small team has gained a lot of attention from the run at Daytona, but the focus is now on using that momentum—and making improvements every race.
“Our goals when we go to the track are to run in the top 15 and keep building our team,” he said, adding, “We thought one top 10 would be awesome, and we already have it. We have to stay focused. Over the next few weeks, it’s important to gel with the race team, learn these cars, develop as a race team, and keep getting better and better each week.”

Daytona Race Was a ‘Huge, Huge Deal’ for Koch – POPULAR SPEED
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Koch's top-10 was probably my favorite part of the Xfinity race! So happy that the team got off on the right foot, and that Koch finally got that elusive top-10 finsih.
An impressive run for him.
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