ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Blake Koch spent a lengthy caution period Saturday afternoon performing the customary practice of saving fuel, shutting his No. 8 car off and on to conserve precious drops. What wasn't customary was his late-race view, up front and with only the pace car in sight. That's why the heartache was especially difficult to take Saturday at Road America , when his TriStar Motorsports entry lost power while leading with five laps remaining in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. With it went his hopes for an upset NASCAR XFINITY Series victory, a breakthrough five years in the making. "It just … nothing. Dead. Totally dead," Koch said, managing a sheepish smile while describing the helplessness of coasting to a stop, relinquishing his position during the final yellow flag. "No voltage, no power, no lights, no nothing. I got pushed all the way around the track to pit road and they reconnected the battery. They got me back out there on the lead lap to salvage a 21st-place finish, but that's where we always finish. We were looking for something better." Koch had worked his way to the front under green-flag conditions, his team working a fuel strategy ploy to near-perfection in the final road-course race of the season. When the final yellow flew for pole-starter Ben Rhodes ' crash, the 30-year-old driver was in prime position, ready to restart alongside eventual race winner Paul Menard , who was in an even more aggressive fuel-saving mode. Besides his flirtation with Victory Lane, Koch had extra motivation to perform well in front of representatives attending from the nearby Milwaukee office for his sponsor, LeafFilter. "For them to see their car leading, it had to have been awesome and that's what I was thinking about," Koch said. "I'd love to win this race for them, and we were in position to give it our best shot. If the thing had kept going green, we had enough fuel. We saved early enough to where when we needed to run hard, we could've run hard. Unfortunately that caution came out and we were just saving, saving, saving, and then one time the car just wouldn't start back up. "Battery came disconnected and the rest is history. I was going to give it my best shot there, restarting in the lead next to the 33 (Menard) and we would've seen what happened." Besides the exposure and the potential for a feel-good underdog story, Koch said plenty of positives stood out. He led five laps, two more than he had cumulatively led in his previous 136 XFINITY Series starts. "The guys will learn and you lose as a team, you win as a team," Koch said, "and it'll just make winning that first race that much better when you remember times like today."
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The decision to compete in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR XFINITY Series sixth annual Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America (Wisconsin) paid off in a huge way for Paul Menard , who scored his third career XFINITY victory at his hometown track. Menard, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, started eighth and saw a decision to stay out after pitting on Lap 24 work to his advantage as he edged out a relentless Ryan Blaney by 0.573 seconds at the 14-turn road course. After the contest, Menard said had the race extended a lap farther, he would not have collected his first XFINITY win since Michigan International Speedway last June. "I've been really fortunate to win at some of the coolest tracks, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Road America is right there," Menard said. "These guys called a great race. We didn't have the fastest car. We had a really good short run car. We really burned off the rear tires as we ran, but the Richmond Water Heaters/Menards Chevrolet was fast and (crew chief Danny) Stockman made a hell of a call at the end." If wondering about running out of fuel wasn't enough, Menard also had to fend off a hard-charging Blaney. "I was definitely concerned," added Menard on both circumstances. "I was saving as much as I could under caution, but then when we fired off I was just chattering the left rear tire really bad. It took a couple of laps for it to come in, then the (No.) 22 started burning his stuff up, but it just didn't fire off very good in the end, but it came to us." After inclement weather forced the cancellation of Coors Light Pole qualifying, Ben Rhodes earned the top starting spot based upon turning the fastest lap at the 4.048-mile road course in the first XFINITY Series practice session Friday afternoon. Rhodes, a NASCAR Next alum, would find himself under pressure from the drop of the green flag when JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott made the move for the lead in Turn 1. Quickly, though, the field would be under the first full-course caution of the day when Tomy Drissi found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 5. Racing resumed on Lap 4 with Elliott checking out from the field and before the first round of green-flag pit stops. The reigning champion stretched his lead to over 10 seconds, when he relinquished the top spot on Lap 11 for a routine pit stop. Championship contender Ty Dillon inherited the lead when Elliott pitted. Dillon, who finished 10th, stretched his fuel run an extra lap to earn a crucial bonus point toward the championship picture. When pit stops cycled through, Elliott reclaimed the point on Lap 16 and built a 13.7-second lead over second-place Brian Scott at the halfway mark. On Lap 22, the second caution waved for fluid on the track, erasing Elliott's substantial advantage. Despite half of the field electing to come to pit road for service behind them, Elliott and his JRM team stood firm on their plan and stayed out. On the restart, Elliott withstood a challenge for Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney , but in Turn 14 and through the frontstretch, Scott mounted the pressure and made the move on Elliott to take the lead on Lap 27. Unable to make it to the end on fuel, Scott pitted under green on Lap 29 handing the lead to defending race winner Brendan Gaughan . Three laps later, though, Gaughan pitted, handing the lead to hometown hero Paul Menard who pitted during the second caution with 13 laps remaining. Planning to stay out till the end, Menard in saving mode purposely gave up the lead to Blake Koch ,who led with 10 laps remaining when pole-sitter Rhodes found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 7 issuing the third full course caution. During the extended caution, Koch lost power, putting Menard back at the point. On the Lap 41 restart, Menard withstood challenges from Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blaney to seal the win in his 197th career start. Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is a trip to the track dubbed "Too Tough To Tame" at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 on Sept. 5 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
Blake Koch talks about having battery issues during the last caution of the race at Road America causing him to lose the leading position.
Clint Bowyer, Blake Feese , Kyle Busch, James Buescher and Ryan Newman comment on their Atlanta finishes.
Rookie Blake Feese gets loose in front of new points leader James Buescher and brings out the caution.
Before the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM), the NASCAR Sprint Cup pilots came out during driver introductions to songs they chose. Check out the list below in the order they were introduced, starting with last-place qualifier Mike Bliss and ending with Coors Light Pole Award winner Denny Hamlin . 43rd place) Mike Bliss - "Hells Bells" by AC/DC 42nd place) Matt DiBenedetto - "I Love Rock 'n Roll" by Joan Jett 41st place) Timmy Hill - "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" by Silento 40th place) Tony Stewart - "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple 39th place) Landon Cassill - "Smooth" by Santana 38th place) J.J. Yeley - "Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley 37th place) David Gilliland - Kickstart My Heart" by Motley Crue 36th place) Alex Bowman - "Bring Me The Horizon" by Throne 35th place) Michael Annett - "Bernie Lean" by Bernie Dance 34th place) Josh Wise - "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama 33rd place) Cole Whitt - "Armor For The Lord" by Blake Whiteley 32nd place) Danica Patrick - "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner 31st place) Aric Almirola - "I Can't Drive 55" by Sammy Hagar 30th place Michael McDowell "Nothing I Can't Do" by Tedashii 29th place) Paul Menard - "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth 28th place Casey Mears "Fuel" by Metallica 27th place) Brett Moffitt - "Cowboy" by Kid Rock 26th place) Sam Hornish Jr . - "Touch of Grey" by Grateful Dead 25th place) AJ Allmendinger - "Tainted Love" by Marilyn Manson 24th place) Jeff Gordon - "E.I." by Nelly 23rd place) Martin Truex Jr . - "La Grange" by ZZ Top 22nd place) Trevor Bayne - "Back Where I Come From" by Kenny Chesney 21st place) Jamie McMurray - "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith 20th place) Dale Earnhardt Jr . - "Eminence Front" by The Who 19th place) Kasey Kahne - "Cherry Bomb" by John Mellencamp 18th place) Ryan Newman - "Good Ol' Boys" by Waylon Jennings 17th place) Greg Biffle - "Wild Side" by Motley Crue 16th place) Austin Dillon - "Move" by Ludacris 15th place) Ryan Blaney - "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam 14th place) Justin Allgaier - "Ready Set Roll" by Chase Rice 13th place) Matt Kenseth - "Stife" by Trivium 12th place) Kyle Larson - "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" by Elton John 11th place) Kurt Busch - "Party Up (Up In Here)" by DMX 10th place) Jimmie Johnson - "Renegades" by X Ambassadors 9th place) Clint Bowyer - "Going Through the Big D" by Mark Chesnutt 8th place) Ricky Stenhouse Jr . - "The Stroke" by Billy Squier 7th place) Kevin Harvick - "Real Life" by Jake Owen 6th place) Brad Keselowski - "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg 5th place) Joey Logano - "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" by Dropkick Murphys 4th place) David Ragan - "Only In America" by Brooks and Dunn 3rd place) Carl Edwards - "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner 2nd place) Kyle Busch - DJ Barry 1st place) Denny Hamlin - "Heart Upon My Sleeve" by Avicii
Driver will have new number for 2015 XFINITY Series season TriStar Motorsports announced Wednesday that Blake Koch will return to the Mark Smith-owned team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Koch is scheduled to drive all 33 races, but in Toyotas fielding a new car number -- No. 8. The 29-year-old Floridian, who has competed in the majority of XFINITY Series events for the last four seasons, drove cars numbered 10, 44, 23 and 91 over a 28-race slate last year. "After a good 2014 season, I am excited to be back with TriStar Motorsports for the 2015 season," Koch said in a news release provided by the team. "I am looking forward to working with Bruce Cook and the No. 8 crew and can't wait to get to Daytona." Koch wound up 24th in the final 2014 standings with a best finish of 18th place at Phoenix International Raceway in November. His top result in 114 career starts in the XFINITY Series was an 11th-place in the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "We are happy to have Blake Koch back with our team for the 2015 season," Smith said. " Blake did well with our team last season and we look forward to building on that success throughout the 2015 season." Last year, Cook served as the crew chief for nine races with the No. 80 team in the XFINITY Series. In those races, he served as the crew chief for Alex Bowman (one race), Ross Chastain (five races) and Johnny Sauter (three races) in 2014. Before that, Cook served as the crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr . in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the 2013 season. He has one victory in his career in XFINITY competition, overseeing Tony Stewart 's win in the 2011 season opener at Daytona International Speedway in what was then called the Nationwide Series. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based organization indicated that sponsorship announcements for the No. 8 team would be made "in the upcoming weeks." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Blake Shelton gives a touching speech as he introduces and offically inducts Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
New at-track shopping experience begins at Pocono RELATED: See photos of the new merchandise experience LONG POND, Pa. -- A new era in NASCAR shopping has officially launched with the new "Trackside Superstore." A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at Pocono Raceway officially ushered in the new retail model as the sport moves away from merchandise haulers and into an at-track shopping experience that is faster and features more selections for fans. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , Pocono June race winner Martin Truex Jr ., Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, Brandon Igdalsky, president of Pocono Raceway, and Blake Davidson, vice president of Licensing and Consumer Products for NASCAR, spoke before fans rushed in to experience the store. Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton also checked out the "Trackside Superstore." The "Trackside Superstore," which is run by Fanatics, totals 60,000 square feet, has specific sections for most drivers and carries $2.5 million in retail inventory, while also carrying a 50 percent increase in product assortment for most of the drivers. There also are dedicated specialty shops for ladies, kids, collectibles and tailgate. There are still some select haulers, most notably for Team Penske and Brad Keselowski merchandise. "This NASCAR superstore is like nothing I've ever seen," Igdalsky told the crowd. "I'm so excited that we were able to launch this year at Pocono. NASCAR has done a great job of enhancing the fan experience, and this is just the next level." The ease of the shopper experience at the "Trackside Superstore" was something that immediately struck Truex. "I'm super excited about this," Truex said. "I can't tell you how many questions I've had this year on Twitter just about, 'Hey, where do I get that hat? Where do I get that shirt?' This makes it easy. Everybody goes in there, finds their favorite driver, finds what they're looking for very easily." He later jokingly added that, "I feel like it's welcome to 2015 everybody." Harvick echoed Truex's thoughts, while also adding his own perspective from when Kevin Harvick Incorporated handled his merchandise. "You come in and walk through your section and you realize how simple the process is to go about finding your driver and checkout," Harvick said. "The thing I noticed the most was just how easily you can see everything and how there might have been a whole bunch of products before that you didn't know where on the trailers. It's definitely like Martin said, it's welcome to 2015. ... It's a huge step for everybody. "Having the experience that we had running our own merchandise stuff for several years at KHI and now seeing this, it's really something that's really neat. You understand the undertaking it takes to get to this point." Davidson indicated this has been a year-long project, from seeking proposals to revealing Fanatics as the selection to running the business in January to today's opening. "We've been working on this a long time," Davidson said. "And we walked in and saw what they put together. Fanatics has done a tremendous job. It's really blown us away, the breadth of product. The ability of the fans to touch and feel the product, which we knew they would be able to do. There's so much here, there's so much new product here that we've never had a track before. I think people are really going to be excited when they get here." Cayce and Mark Votek have been coming to Pocono for the past 10 years. Cayce, a fan of Denny Hamlin , liked that even with the new setup there was still a feel of familiarity. "I was a little skeptical at first," Cayce said. "I do like that I can touch the stuff first. That's actually really cool, probably dangerous for me because now I just grab it all. I know all of the people from Denny's hauler because I go there all the time and I actually ran into one, so I like that they're still here. There's still some familiarity. So far, so good." In addition to being able to touch and feel the products, Tannenbaum touted the reduced wait times fans will have to buy merchandise. The Fanatics executive estimated that in peak times the wait at a hauler was between 45 minutes and an hour. However, he acknowledged that this new model wasn't without his challenges when compared to running merchandise at other events like the NHL Winter Classic or the SEC Championship Game. "From a process, this is absolutely the most challenging one we've had and I think will ever have," Tannenbaum said. "When you think about it, go set up the Super Bowl and then break it down 38 times and set up again the next week. That's what makes it the most challenging. At Fanatics, it was an exciting challenge. It was 'go for a solution to this and make this work.' And what we presented to NASCAR and where we ended up today is very different because we learned so much." Tannenbaum added that Fanatics has three different tent structures, two different sets of fixtures to hold merchandise and one set of inventory for the trackside superstore. Next weekend's race at Watkins Glen will have a slightly different setup and a team is already up there to set it up. A team from Pocono will drive to Watkins Glen when the Tricky Triangle race weekend ends to build the setup out with the inventory. "What you are seeing here is going to be the standard superstore for all tracks," Tannenbaum said. "What is going to happen is there will be more locations and satellite locations at tracks that do either more revenue or less revenue, wider tracks. I use Richmond as the example. This store at Richmond, everybody walks into that front, it's pretty straightforward. At Daytona or the really big tracks, you are going to have to have multiple locations to meet the consumers' demand. We are going to look at what revenues are at the track, what the flow of traffic is and make sure that we can manage all of that. But this will be the central point for all of the stores." And while the new setup may take some time for fans to get used to, Truex said this was a good change for the long run. "I know a lot of NASCAR fans are worried about things changing, but I assure them this is a change for the better and I think it looks great." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Will we see Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. reunited? RELATED: MWR co-owner buys into CGR " Bowyer comments on MWR situation Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr . were teammates at Michael Waltrip Racing for two seasons -- one of which was Bowyer’s best to date, in 2012 -- before MWR granted Truex the freedom to seek other opportunities following a race manipulation scandal that sent shockwaves through the sport in 2013. Truex has spent the past one-plus seasons at Furniture Row Racing , struggling mightily last year but emerging as a title contender in 2015. Bowyer and MWR have since struggled, to the point that co-owner Rob Kauffman has purchased stake in Chip Ganassi Racing in a potential exit from the organization, leaving Bowyer riddled with questions. Truex and Furniture Row may just have the answers he’s looking for. Bowyer took to Twitter to answer fan questions on his flight back from an eighth-place finish at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, and hinted at possibly reuniting with Truex, who was also on the plane. @ClintBowyer are you on the plane with a future teammate??? Lol — James Cunningham (@JamesIV1978) August 2, 2015 Maybe. @MartinTruex_Jr https://t.co/N9ejArwhRa — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 2, 2015 FRR team owner Barney Visser has hinted at a possible manufacturer change from Chevrolet to Toyota , which Bowyer currently drives, and has mentioned that the organization would like to have a second team by 2017 at the latest . Don’t worry, since it was a Bowyer Q&A, the chat quickly turned silly, and for the record, Bowyer won’t give Jamie McMurray a Wet Willy -- not when he has the space to go for the full swirly. (Props to @nascarcasm for tossing the idea to Clint in the first place. Gold.) @ClintBowyer I'll give $50 to a charity of your choice if give McMurray a successful Wet Willy. — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) August 2, 2015 Screw that, the size of this plane one can successfully hand out a swirly. https://t.co/xk7HkbiiNQ — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 2, Thankfully Blake Shelton wasn’t on the plane with them, otherwise it sounds like this Q&A wouldn’t have even happened. @ClintBowyer is @blakeshelton with you? — Adrianne (@Tony14M5fan) August 2, 2015 Hell no, we can still type can't we? https://t.co/Fk6AOF64Mf — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 3, 2015 A fan then told Bowyer that his mom often gets the MWR driver mixed up with his former Richard Childress Racing teammate and current NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton -- who is 12 years his senior. @ClintBowyer My mom routinely gets you and Jeff Burton confused because she thinks you look alike. Do you get that a lot (or ever)? — Tommy Chitester (@TChitester) August 3, 2015 He's 60 and I'm 20. He's 4'0 I'm 6'0. Tell u what though. He's a race calling sob though https://t.co/gR02RQgsiW — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 3, 2015 Then there was another fan whose hashtag game was a little off. It’s #BartenderBrad , Mike Richards. Get with it, man. @ClintBowyer Is @keselowski on the plane giving you drinking lessons? #ProfessorBrad — Mike Richards (@autodetailer66) August 3, 2015 Hahahaha!!!!! https://t.co/HnhS7WY4hl — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 3, 2015 And boy, does he think highly of old (new?!?) teammate Truex. Bowyer and McMurray on a plane be like... #nascar pic.twitter.com/OdIvwAhCtl — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) August 3, 2015 Pissed u made me the blow up doll, but damn is @MartinTruex_Jr sexy! https://t.co/HCHsyjLQuD — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 3, 2015