Blake Koch , Austin Dillon lead XFINITY practices at Bristol
RELATED: Practice 2 results Blake Koch topped the leaderboard in Friday's second NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway , clocking in at 123.666 mph in his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Right behind him was Kyle Busch in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after posting a fastest lap of 123.364 mph. Rounding out the top five were Austin Dillon in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (123.356 mph), Jeb Burton in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford (123.166 mph) and Erik Jones in the No. 20 JGR Toyota (122.905 mph). Series points leader Daniel Suarez was eighth-fastest with a speed of 122.131 mph in the No. 19 JGR Toyota while the defending race winner Joey Logano was 10th on the leaderboard in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford (122.092 mph). With approximately five minutes remaining in the 55-minute session, Darrell Wallace Jr . made some contact with the wall, causing slight damage to the right-rear fender of his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (18th-fastest, 121.366 mph). Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set for a 9:30 a.m. ET green flag (FS1). PRACTICE 1 RECAP RELATED: Practice 1 results Austin Dillon topped the leaderboard in Friday's opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway , turning a fast lap of 123.237 mph in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Kyle Larson clocked in second, wheeling his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at 123.095 mph around the short track. Richard Childress Racing teammates Brandon Jones in the No. 33 Chevrolet (123.016 mph) and Brendan Gaughan in the No. 62 Chevrolet (122.866 mph) came up third and fourth, respectively, while Texas winner Kyle Busch completed the top five with a fast lap of 122.819 mph in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Defending race winner Joey Logano was eighth-fastest in the field (122.357 mph), driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske . Series points leader Daniel Suarez was 11th-fastest with a speed of 121.906 mph in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Blake Koch ecstatic after advancing to Round of 8
Blake Koch expressed his excitement after a 12th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway advanced him into the Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
For small teams of Sieg, Koch , Chase berth feels like a win
RELATED: Chicagoland race results " Chase Grid JOLIET, Ill. – Ryan Sieg rebounded from a pit-road speeding penalty and an errant pit stop. Blake Koch said it was a race-long vibration that raised his concerns. But the two drivers and their respective teams persevered to come home with top-15 finishes in Saturday’s Drive for Safety 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Chicagoland Speedway and clinched spots in the series’ inaugural Chase. Sieg wound up 12th while Koch battled to a 15th- place finish in the 200-lap race. "We're going to have to be top 15 or better each race, be on our game and make no mistakes," said Sieg, driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet for RSS Racing. "If some other people make mistakes, we can benefit from that and make it to the next round. "You've got to race hard and get everything out of everybody; it's going to be a struggle but we're ready for it." Sieg, 29, will enter the seven-race playoff seeded ninth, 12 points behind Saturday's race winner, top-seeded Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). Sieg is not alone – nine of the 12 drivers in the field qualified for the Chase on points, and will begin with 2,000-point total after the reset. It's a daunting task for Sieg's group, as well as for Koch and others who have seen Sprint Cup -affiliated teams dominate the competition this season. But they'll all be racing for the same hardware come next week, and to be among the handful in that position is a win in itself. "This is huge," Sieg said. "It's like a race within a race – the Cup affiliated teams and the smaller teams. We're one of the top two smaller car teams. This is like our little championship here. It's exciting; I'm ready to go to the next three." For Koch , it was a stressful event at Chicagoland, in part brought on by a season spent on the Chase bubble. The vibration in the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet only made matters worse. The concern in his voice as the race wound down wasn't anything new. "How about a little concern in my voice all race long?" said Koch , who called the event "the biggest XFINITY race I've ever been a part of. "I had this little vibration that just scared me. When you're in this tight of a points battle you want everything to feel perfect and I had a vibration through my shifter; I don't know where it was. It never went away, it never got worse." It was not the first time the issue had cropped up; the last time it did, Koch said, he failed to finish the race. "So it just had my stomach in knots," the 31-year-old said. “Chris (Rice, crew chief) was able to use his psychology and get my head off of it and just race the race." The XFINITY Chase format consists of seven races and three rounds, with four drivers eliminated at the conclusion of each of the first two rounds. The drivers in the Championship 4 will go to Homestead-Miami Speedway to determine the champion. The Round of 12 will consist of stops at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte while Kansas, Texas and Phoenix make up the Round of 8 races. "I feel like I've been points racing all year, like I've been the guy on the bubble every single race," Koch said. “You're going to have to be smart at Kentucky and get through there with a solid finish but then I think you can go to Dover and let it all hang out."
Wallace Jr., Gaughan, Reed, Koch miss Championship 4
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A tearful Darrell Wallace Jr . left the infield care center at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, disappointed after a crash took him out of Chase contention and distraught over the loss of a cherished grandmother only days earlier. The Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR XFINITY Series driver had honored his grandmother by placing "Granny Jan" above the door of his No. 6 Ford. One of eight drivers vying for a berth in next week's Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and seventh in points, Wallace needed a victory to secure a spot in the final. He was running inside the top 10 when contact from fellow Chase driver Blake Koch on Lap 149 of the 200-lap event sent his car hard into the wall, erasing any hopes of a victory. "My grandmother was giving me the ride of my life," an emotional Wallace said after exiting the care center. "That was the most fun I've had all year. Just circumstances took us out. ... We will go to Homestead and let her ride again." Wallace, teammate Ryan Reed , Koch (Kaulig Racing) and Brendan Gaughan ( Richard Childress Racing ) failed to transfer into the final round. Daniel Suarez and teammate Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) will make up half the field batting for the title as will JR Motorsports drivers Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier .
Blake Koch returning to TriStar Motorsports
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
Ty Dillon gets sideways, collects Koch
Ty Dillon spins early during the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and collides with Blake Koch .
Keselowski turns Poole, collects Koch
Brad Keselowski bumps Brennan Poole and sends him into the outside wall, collecting Blake Koch .
Shannon Koch wins 2015 Better Half Dash
Photo credit: @CLTMotorSpdwy RELATED: Photos of the Better Half Dash participants CONCORD, N.C. -- It was the NASCAR wives' and girlfriends' time to shine on the track in Thursday's fifth annual Better Half Dash, organized by Motor Racing Outreach at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Shannon Koch , the wife of NASCAR XFINITY Series driver, Blake Koch , took the checkered flag. She overcame some early-race trouble when the back body panel of her No. 8 machine was blown off by the wind. "I really didn't know that I lost part of my car until I came back around and they were picking it up off the track," Shannon Koch said after the race. "My husband just said, 'keep going, they didn't black flag you yet.' " Congratulations Shannon Koch ! @CLTMotorSpdwy : Shannon Koch wins #BetterHalfDash ! pic.twitter.com/utaZBrZH2u http://t.co/A8pZxzvjsB — NASCAR Off Track (@OffTrackNASCAR) October 8, 2015 When asked whether that gave her an aerodynamic advantage, Shannon Koch said, "I don't know, maybe it did. Did lap times pick up? I have no idea. It didn't feel any different to me." To which second-place finisher Katelyn Sweet, girlfriend of Kyle Larson , quickly said to a loud round of laughter, "Your motor got way more air." No word on whether the car passed post-race inspection. Shannon Koch wins the #BetterHalfDash at @CLTMotorSpdwy pic.twitter.com/dbjY7tmYkm — Pete McCole (@PeteMcCole) October 8, 2015 The race benefits MRO and Speedway Children's Charities as well as each participant's individual charity. Koch's $10,000 winnings went to MRO, which was the charity she was representing. The participants raised $75,000, according to MRO and track officials With the win comes a really big trophy for Koch . She described it as "definitely the biggest that we have. It will go right up there with the rest of them." And Koch is also going out on top, saying in the post-race press conference, "I'm retiring." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Larson and Denny Hamlin were among the spotters for their respective significant others, Sweet and Jordan Fish. NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . were among those to check out the action as well. Sweet led several laps in the event and overcame an early spin out to finish second. Tandra Greenfield, the wife of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Clay Greenfield , finished third. Greenfield is eager to come back next year. "It was fun to compete with them because they were so aggressive and competitive," she said. Wendy Venturini, a NASCAR reporter and wife of Jarrad Egert, director of track operations for Joe Gibbs Racing , was not able to pull off the MRO event sweep after taking the High Heel Dash in May. Over the past few weeks, there have been practice sessions leading up to the race, all while the competitors were busy raising money prior to the event. As in years past, the participant to raise the most money earned the opportunity to select their starting spot for the race. Koch earned the pole honor. The results: 1. Shannon Koch (wife of driver Blake Koch ) 2. Katelyn Sweet (girlfriend of driver Kyle Larson ) 3. Tandra Greenfield (wife of driver Clay Greenfield ) 4. Jordan Fish (girlfriend of driver Denny Hamlin ) 5. Kristen Yeley (wife of driver J.J. Yeley) 6. Tatiana Papis (wife of driver Max Papis ) 7. Ashley Deihl Stremme (wife of driver David Stremme ) 8. Melanie Self (Motor Racing Outreach Community Center Coordinator) 9. Jenna Robinson (wife of No. 19 tire changer Clay Robinson) 10. Whitney Kay Scott (wife of driver Brian Scott ) 11. Wendy Venturini (NASCAR reporter, wife of JGR director of track operations Jarrad Egert)
Battery break ends in heartbreak for winless Koch
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."
Logano, Koch get wind knocked out of 'Dega runs
RELATED: The wreck, frame-by-frame " Wildest wrecks at 'Dega TALLADEGA, Ala. – Ignore the dateline to the left. For accuracy's sake, list this one from CARE CENTER. Because that's where we found Joey Logano , previously the race leader, following Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Talladega Superspeedway . Maybe he won the ride to get the medical once-over, but he wound up 27th when the official race results were posted. The Team Penske driver wasn't injured. Blake Koch , a series regular, wasn't either; he had already returned to his team's truck in the garage by the time Logano walked out of the infield care center. Both were involved in a last-lap crash, one of those hard, grinding, lift your car up off the asphalt incidents Saturday at Talladega. It was one of those that took officials several minutes to sort out and left Victory Lane sitting temporarily empty. RELATED: NXS Managing director explains review process Logano called it "just typical superspeedway racing ... racing for the win at the end." Koch confirmed it's not something he wants "to go through again." But quickly added "it's definitely not going to hold me back from trying to make the big move coming to the checkered flag." A race that went three laps beyond its scheduled distance came to a head on the final circuit, with Logano leading and Elliott Sadler (JR Motorsports) trying his best to alter the outcome. When Sadler slid inside as they came to the tri-oval, the back of Logano's Ford went the other way. Contact sent Sadler's Chevy to the apron. It sent Logano into the wall front-end first. Koch , on the outside and trailing the leaders, slammed into the right rear of Logano's entry. RELATED: Sadler wins chaotic 'Dega overtime race "It is what it is," Logano said afterward. "That is speedway racing. If you put 40 cars in a pack going 200 mph racing for a win, we are going to crash. Let's be honest. "It is exciting, though, and our cars are really safe. That is the hardest hit I have ever taken. I am impressed with the way the car held up and the way Team Penske built my Mustang -- they made sure to make safety first, and that says a lot about us. "Yeah we hit hard, yeah the ego is a little hurt but I am OK." He wasn't, he said, "dumped" by Sadler, the eventual winner. "I'm sure he was there and I turned down." When Koch was located in the garage, the results were still being tabulated. "I'll feel different depending on where we finish," he said. "When you take a risk like that at the end, you want it to pay off." Officially, score the No. 11 of Koch in 24th. "I could have stayed in the bottom lane and finished 10th, 11th, 12th, wherever we were," Koch said. "I had that run and went to the top and it was working until the 22 (of Logano) got spun. "When you're going 200 mph you can't just stop. I tried to turn as much as I could but you're in the tri-oval, your car is loose there anyway ... I just wanted to get to the finish line. "I got there, just not the way I wanted to."
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