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)
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."
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 Koch talks about having battery issues during the last caution of the race at Road America causing him to lose the leading position.
See a timelapse of the No. 8 car getting wrapped Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Blake Koch has picked up primary sponsorship for the 2015 XFINITY Series season. TriStar Motorsports announced Thursday that Koch's No. 8 Toyota Camry will see LeafFilter Gutter Protection serve as the primary sponsor beginning with the Alert Today Florida 300 on Feb. 21 at Daytona International Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "There are so many things about LeafFilter that I love," Koch said in a release provided by the team. "First of all the product is amazing and fun to promote because no one likes to clean their gutters and LeafFilter has the solution." "The people behind the scenes of LeafFilter are awesome, and the hundreds of employees that I have met are so excited to be working for LeafFilter and are extremely motivated. Having their support this year is very encouraging and motivating and we are going to do everything it takes to put the No. 8 LeafFilter Toyota Camry in victory lane in Daytona." Last month, TriStar Motorsports announced that Koch will pilot the No. 8 car on a full-time basis. Bruce Cook will serve as the team's crew chief. TriStar Motorsports will field four entries in the XFINITY Series this season. Besides Koch , the driver lineup includes Cale Conley, Mike Bliss and David Starr. You can see a timelapse of the car being wrapped below. &amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;gt; FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Blake Koch gets loose sliding into David Starr causing them both to crash hard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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).
Koch gearing up to race in Subway Firecracker 250 in his home state TriStar Motorsports has announced that Celsius Energy Drink will return as primary sponsor of the team's No. 8 Toyota and driver Blake Koch for Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Celsius -- TriStar's official energy drink partner, based in Boca Raton, Florida -- also sponsored Koch's efforts earlier this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway and for the 2014 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I am really excited to have the Celsius Healthy Energy paint scheme on my Toyota Camry this weekend in Daytona," said Koch , who claims West Palm Beach as his hometown in the Sunshine State. "Celsius has been a great partner of ours and I look forward to representing their company during the July 4th race weekend. My No. 8 team has put together a fast Camry and I am ready to race under the lights in my home state!" Koch ranks 18th in XFINITY Series driver standings points heading into Saturday's Subway Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, MRN, SiriusXM). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brennan Poole and Ben Rhodes get together and collect Ryan Reed and Blake Koch early in Kentucky.
Six cars involved in crash during opening round of qualifying Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live A six-car wreck brought out a red flag during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Drivers involved included Daniel Suarez, Landon Cassill, Harrison Rhodes, Blake Koch , Carlos Contreras and Tanner Berryhill. The pileup came about at the end of the second group participating in the first round of group qualifying before the season-opening Alert Today Florida 300, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Suarez appears to be heading to his backup car. The @ARRISEVERYWHERE backup car is being unloaded. Several parts will need to be swapped. 18 team will be busy. pic.twitter.com/aU1bHQHYus — Boris for JGR (@JoeGibbsRacing) February 21, 2015 The melee also stirred up sentiment from drivers that the new knockout qualifying format is not suited for tracks like Daytona. "This is not what it needs to be," Kyle Busch said to FOX Sports 1 about group qualifying shortly after the wreck. "Somehow, someway, this isn't right." Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he hoped everyone was OK following the wreck as his team waited to see if it would make the race. Hope all is well after that accident. Seen a few hit hard. Now we sit and wait and see if we make the show. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 21, 2015 Shortly after the wreck qualifying was put on hold due to bad weather in the area. This story will be updated. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule