Ingersoll Rand will serve as primary sponsor for Kimmel's five NNS starts
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid Ain't no party like a NASCAR party! As the regular season nears its end and The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rapidly approaches, so too does the annual fan celebration to mark its beginning -- NASCAR Chase Fest. Taking place, once again, in Chicago on Sept. 17 ahead of the first Challenger Round race at Chicagoland Speedway , Chase Fest sponsored by Toyota and Sprint provides a free outdoor fan fest featuring appearances and autograph sessions with all 16 Chase drivers and other NASCAR personalities. Grammy-nominated 3 Doors Down will help keep the party flowing with a concert, as well as a performance by Chicago's popular country cover band, the Suburban Cowboys. Fans in attendance also will have a plethora of meal and drink options, with food being provided by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and beverages by Coors Light. Additional entertainment will include the Toyota Ferris Wheel and the NASCAR on NBC Sports Bumper Cars. The events of the day will be covered by NBCSN, including Krista Voda, Kyle Petty, Marty Snider and Rutledge Wood, for the network's live broadcast of "NASCAR America." Chase Fest will take place on Weed Street between Fremont and Kingsbury streets from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time. For full details on this year's Chase Fest, click here .
Steve O'Donnell talks about Rob Kauffman's importance in NASCAR and also believes Clint Bowyer will find a new home.
Complete news and notes on all 43 cars in the Quaker State 400 RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Kentucky Speedway. 1. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 163 laps to win his second Cup event of the year and is 87 points outside the top 30. " MORE: How is Busch positioned for the Chase 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano paced the field 23 laps late on Saturday night, but couldn't hold on for his first Kentucky victory. " MORE: See the updated Chase Grid and where Logano is on it 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A cut tire, an unexpected pit stop and a subsequent speeding penalty didn't deter Hamlin, who rallied from two laps down to earn his eighth top 10 of the year. " MORE: Kentucky rules package earns rave reviews 4. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . "My Minions didn't like M&Ms," Edwards radioed his team after lining up next to teammate and leader Kyle Busch for the Lap 157 restart. " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth reported early in the race that he had an alternator going down, but restarting the car seemed to fix the issue. " MORE: JGR pulls off rare feat at Kentucky 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The outside pole sitter struggled on pit road, notably dropping nine spots after hitting his front-tire carrier during a stop under the fifth caution flag. 7. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon was shut out in his final Kentucky appearance, and despite a fifth straight top-10 result, the track will remain the only one where the four-time Cup champion is winless. " MORE: Gordon's track record 8. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The points leader endured a late-race tight-handling condition to claim his Series-leading 16th top 10 of the year. 9. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "You're back in this game, homeboy," crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson, who lined up seventh for the Lap 157 restart after some major early changes to his car dropped him deep in the lineup. " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch was loose running 10th and crashed into the Turn 4 wall on Lap 99 after asking his team to undo the changes they had made on a previous stop. 11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse just missed his second top 10 of the year after traveling up the track and into the side of Jeb Burton on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution. 12. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Despite radio communication issues, Almirola held on to earn his best Kentucky result. 13. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne earned the Lucky Dog on the fourth caution flag and rallied to sixth for the final restart. 14. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray overcame an early lugnut issue and used a little pit strategy to score his second-best Kentucky result. 15. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard brushed the wall on Lap 81 and left debris to bring out the third caution flag. 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle's team tried a variety of adjustments on Saturday in an attempt to help the turning of the No. 16 Ford. 17. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Despite a car that was "plowing," Truex held on to maintain fifth in the points standing. 18. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan ran in the top 10 early before his team started chasing the handling of his No. 55 Toyota. 19. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . "This new package is awesome," radioed Bowyer, who earned his best 1.5-mile result of the season. "You have to drive your (rear) off, but it's fun." " RELATED: Sign up for RaceView for in-car audio during race. 20. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman, in his fifth Kentucky outing, stayed out to inherit the lead briefly for the Lap 192 restart. 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt, complaining of a lack of brakes, smacked the wall on Lap 136 to bring out the sixth caution flag. After subsequently bumping Danica Patrick , Earnhardt spent time on pit road where his crew tried again to fix the issue. " WATCH: Danica, Dale Jr. tussle on pit road . 22. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish struggled with drive-off, but posted his fastest lap of the night just prior to the eighth caution flag on Lap 152. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was named the Lucky Dog after Jeb Burton tagged the wall on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution flag 24. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier had just returned to the lead lap after the Lap 122 caution when he was penalized for passing before the restart. 25. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Handling was an ongoing issue for Dillon, who reported to his team on Lap 220, "I feel like I'm trying to turn a bulldozer down into the corner." 26. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger's team continually tinkered on the No. 47 Chevy, and he finished as the last car on the lead lap. 27. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was running in the top 10 by the halfway point, but noticeably fell off the pace with 30 laps to go. 28. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Patience paid off for Cassill, who posted his best 1.5-mile result of the 2015 season. 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland asked his team to check out his grille because his gauges were running hot on Lap 161. 30. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett lined up 29th in his second Kentucky appearance. 31. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman had to play catch-up after his team was penalized for going over the wall too soon during the competition caution on Lap 32. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt, a Kentucky newcomer, earned the Lucky Dog pass heading into the Lap 192 restart. 33. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart locked down his brakes briefly on Lap 143 and hit the wall while trying to avoid wrecking competitors in front of him. 34. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick spun on Lap 207 thanks to contact from a brake-less Earnhardt to bring out a record-tying 10th caution flag. She retaliated by hitting Earnhardt as the two entered pit road. " ALL ACCESS: Danica frustrated with Dale Jr. 35. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. A smoking left-rear tire prompted the pole sitter to pit unexpectedly with 52 laps to go. Upon returning to the track, he hit the wall to bring out a record-setting 11th caution flag. 36. Reed Sorenson , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson drove the No. 62 for the first time this year in his first 1.5-mile start of the season. 37. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt was running 35th when left-rear tire rub prompted his car to start smoking around Lap 110. 38. Will Kimmel III , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Kimmel lined up 40th in his Sprint Cup debut. 39. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . A loose-handling condition prompted Yeley to spin in Turn 4 on Lap 122 and bring out the fifth caution flag of the night. 40. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy picked up a few spots after lining up 43rd in his first career Kentucky start. 41. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The rookie was pushed into the wall by Ricky Stenhouse on Lap 143 to bring out the seventh caution flag. 42. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto sustained damage during the Lap 143 wreck and retreated to the garage so his team could make repairs. 43. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Wise brought out the first caution on Lap 19 after J.J. Yeley pushed him into the wall. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Much like their fellow NASCAR drivers who are deservedly spending the season's final off-week relaxing on a beach or jet-setting to some exotic location, Landon Cassill and Josh Wise are using the rare downtime to travel and enjoy the scenic Austrian Alps. The difference, however, is that these two Sprint Cup drivers won't be sightseeing or taking leisurely day hikes. They will be experiencing one of the world's most beautiful regions while competing in the elite Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Zell am See-Kaprun outside Salzburg, Austria on Sunday. Their breathtaking views will be just that as they swim 1.2-miles in Lake Zell, bike 56 miles through the glacier-tipped Alps and then finish with a 13.1-mile run along the lakeshore and through the area's small villages in one of the world's most grueling and prestigious physical competitions. "When we looked at the schedule both of us had aspirations to qualify for the 70.3 or Kona (Ironman 140.6 in Hawaii)," explained Wise. "The Worlds happened to fall on our last off weekend and there was a qualifier on the next to last off weekend. "It looked like this is a once in a lifetime chance. It's a bucket list goal just to qualify, but to have opportunity to do Austria was super special and it just felt like it was meant to be." But not without a lot of work. Anyone who still dismisses the athletic ability of NASCAR drivers would have a losing argument when it comes to the training regimen of Cassill, 26, and Wise, 32, who have taken their dedication to fitness and competition to a new level. RELATED: Johnson: 'If you want to be fast, you've got to suffer' More often than not, these two drivers show up at the race track having already swam, biked or run for miles and hours before some of their competitors have even rolled out of bed. Their dedication and commitment means a 5 a.m. wake-up call even on race weekends and using a special "Swim Radar" app to find a public pool near the race track that's open early enough and will allow them to swim. They've done their laps everywhere from the small town YMCA to the pool at Ohio State University. They strategically place their long bike rides as well and that can be tricky -- both finding a safe route close to the track and "not getting lost," Wise joked. They did a 60-mile bike ride after qualifying at Indianapolis this summer and squeezed in a 20-miler between practices at Pocono. Last week at Bristol, the two swam a mile and a half and ran five miles before the night race. Cassill did his World Cup qualifier in Muncie, Ind. during NASCAR's Kentucky Speedway race weekend, flying to Muncie after the Friday night XFINITY race, competing in the 70.3-mile triathalon Saturday morning then returning to Kentucky Speedway for the Cup race that night. "That was a little test of endurance," Cassill said. "Saturday morning I got my qualifying slot and flew back and raced Saturday night (at Bristol). I felt pretty good." Both Cassill and Wise say that competitive spirit lift is an important motivation for both. Driving for small, lower-funded Sprint Cup Series teams, they are admittedly not contending for wins every week. Success in the triathalons not only is a huge fitness benefit to them both, but gives them a sense of accomplishment and success. "I think a big part of the inspiration to do this has to do with obviously with the benefit of what it does for us in the car, but for us, we drive for small teams and we don't have a chance to win every race in a car and when you're doing that for 38 weeks in a row, it can get taxing," said Cassill, the 2008 XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year who now drives the No. 40 Hillman-Smith Chevrolet in the Cup Series and the No. 01 JD Motorsports Chevy in the XFINITY Series. "This is something for us, we can control and it really just helps that confidence in the garage just to know what we're capable of with our bodies and pushing ourselves to the limit. To me, it's a confidence builder." Wise, who scored a career-best 10th at Talladega in May driving the No. 98 Ford, agreed. "It's an amazing competitive outlet," he said. "There's not a lot of things that you can do that you have so much control over. It goes back to the alarm clock. Are you going to get up and get the swim in and the running before you go to work? It's your choice. With the sport we're in, people don't realize all the external factors there are that you can't control." "When our cars aren't driving right or we're communicating with our crew in the midst of battling with someone, I feel the mental gain from the type of work we do off the track even beyond the physical. "I'm far beyond physically where I need to be, but mentally I can still continue to push myself, my body and my brain to dig deeper. When you can overcome every cell in your body shutting you down and you have to mentally force your legs to pick up and move in a run, there is a mental strength that comes from that. "I feel there's a real specificity to what we do that applies to our type of racing." The benefits go beyond just them personally. "My team has so much confidence in me that although they may not see me during the week, they don't have a doubt in their mind that I'm still working; that I’m trying to make myself the fittest race car driver, the best race car driver I can be, focused and prepared," Cassill said. "It's important because when teams are fighting for sponsorship, tough finishes the wheels can come off and you want to instill in your team that you're doing everything you can." Their pursuit is not only recognized by their team members but in the garage and bigger NASCAR community as well. While these two drivers don’t typically generate the same racing headlines as their good friend and frequent training partner, six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson , they do have his great respect -- especially with this weekend's Ironman in Austria. "My hat is off to Josh and Landon," Johnson said. "They've put in the hard work. I've watched them get very serious about it. They are both faster than me (smiling) and I'm so proud of them." All three drivers are confident that this kind of extreme cross training will be more prevalent on the starting grid in coming years. It's a visibly growing group of cyclists that join Johnson, Wise and Cassill on the bike rides during race weekend downtime or meet up at a nearby public pool for some laps. " Jimmie Johnson , in my opinion, sparked that fire by winning six championships and being the fittest driver the sport has ever seen," Cassill said. "We are in some ways just copycatting what he did. Eventually, a lot of the drivers that have the skill -- and have had the success in the past -- but aren't consistently getting the success now are going to start getting pressure from their owners and sponsors that will say they're sick of getting of their butts kicked from these fit drivers, you need to do something. "I think in the next five to 10 years you're going to see a lot more of our drivers getting fitter and fitter," Cassill continued. "I think our sport is going to go through similar transition that golf saw and I compare our sport to golf because it's a skill sport. It takes a certain skill and technique to swing a golf club and it takes a certain skill and technique to drive a race car. It doesn't necessarily take athleticism to drive a race car or hit a golf ball, but athleticism enhances that skill." This weekend Cassill and Wise will be representing their sport on a world platform and just qualifying for the world championship in the midst of a busy and demanding NASCAR season is already a huge accomplishment. "There are a lot of cyclists in the garage and people that know what's going on. I had a lot of people asking me about this weekend at the Bristol race and crew members wishing me good luck," Cassill said. "Obviously a lot of text messages from my team wishing me good luck." "I'd love to set a new PR (personal record), I feel like I try to do that at every race. But just another finish would be a win. This is a very challenging event and this is a world championship event so the competition is a lot tougher than I've competed against."
Gamers and NASCAR fans are coming together with the latest venture with EA's Real Racing 3 franchise. EA is teaming up with NASCAR, and the partnership will incorporate an experience surrounding the upcoming Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 12 . Players will be able to choose a team and race alongside some of the NASCAR greats ( Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kyle Busch ), in the hopes of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. Cars that players will get to choose from will include real world sponsors and paint schemes from Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Roush Fenway Racing , Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske . Those who play the latest update of the game -- even street racers and pros -- will get to learn about actual racing skills such as drafting, slingshot passing and navigating around a pack of cars (in a 43-car field, to be exact). Real Racing 3 can be downloaded for free at the App Store , Google Play and Amazon apps .
The idea was to start slow and build on this year’s initial effort. But based on the reaction from teams, drivers, sponsors and others in the industry, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway officials might want to raise their goals going forward. This week's Bojangles' Southern 500 NASCAR weekend is the kickoff of a five-year plan to celebrate the history and heritage of the legendary race track. As part of the celebration, race teams will feature throwback paint schemes on their cars. RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes Concessions will include items that haven’t been on the menu in decades -- fried green tomatoes, sausage perlo and pimento cheese sandwiches. The annual Southern 500 parade, idled since the early '90s, returns. Even ticket prices (for renewal customers) were given the throwback treatment -- $18 seats in the Colvin Grandstands, which is located on the original frontstretch of the 1.336-mile track. But it's the paint schemes that have everyone buzzing. More than 30 of the 43 entries lining up are expected to carry the special one-race look. That's quite a few more than officials originally anticipated. "Our goal," Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile told NASCAR.com, "was eight to 10. "This is a five-year platform; this isn't a one-year deal. We felt like if we could get eight or 10 teams on board to really showcase what we're trying to accomplish, we felt like in 2016 we could get more, in 2017 we would get more and so on. But the response that we've gotten from everyone in the industry has been incredible. "Everybody can rally around this idea, everyone from licensing to NASCAR to the team itself to the Hall of Fame. Everybody has a piece and a role in this weekend and they're all excited." Darlington was the first paved speedway greater than 1 mile in length to feature NASCAR events, hosting its first race in 1950. The Southern 500 quickly became one of the "crown jewel" races of the circuit, and it was run on Labor Day, or the weekend preceding the official holiday, from '50 through 2003. This year, the event returns to its long-held spot on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Shortly after taking over the reins of the track, Wile said he met with, International Speedway Corp. vice president and chief marketing officer, Daryl Wolfe to begin developing a plan to generate interest in the event, the only Sprint Cup Series race currently hosted by the track. "We started talking about, 'OK, how do we differentiate Darlington from the rest of the stops on the schedule?'" Wile said. "Obviously what we have here is the history and heritage of Darlington. We started brainstorming ideas. We got a focus group together that consisted of people in the industry -- teams, NASCAR, ISC -- and really vetted through the concept. Everybody agreed that it was a great idea, that it was something that the sport needed, so we went to work." The era the track is celebrating this year runs from 1970 through '74, Wile said, but "for the teams we just wanted them to celebrate something in the past. It could be from five years ago or it could be something from 50 years ago. "We felt like in order to be authentic to what we're trying to accomplish, we had to be able to reference data or artwork from a specific era," he said. "After talking to our focus group, we felt like the 1950s and '60s the sport was just getting its legs and there wasn't as much data to reference. So the start of the modern era of NASCAR started in 1970 so we felt like the first year we will celebrate 70-74." The pre-race concert will feature Grand Funk Railroad, which earned its first No. 1 single on the Billboard chart in '73. Country music's Tanya Tucker will sing the national anthem. "Two very iconic early '70s artists that are going to be a part of our weekend and really tie it all together," Wile said. "I really believe what's happening here is something that could begin a new tradition," Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The race itself and the track is all about tradition and history and we lean on its history and tradition to promote the event. This is possibly a new chapter for it to promote and market that tradition and history. And an opportunity for the drivers, teams and owners, everybody as a group to tip your cap to some of the things that each of you like about the past -- maybe a driver or paint scheme or something like that. "I think it's really cool. It's something that you would imagine sitting around with your buddies going 'You know what would be awesome?' But you’d never think … 'Well, that'll never happen but it would be really cool if it did.' "Well it's happening and it's a pretty cool thing that it's being embraced by so many people."
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Senior writer Kenny Bruce discusses the origins of the Darlington throwback program ... George Winkler and Maggie MacKenzie debate about which driver is most likely to crash the Chase field, and which one is most likely to fall out. TUESDAY: Kyle Larson gets honest about his Chase chances ... We'll talk about the Southern 500 returning to Labor Day weekend ... Then with football season quickly approaching, RJ Kraft draws up some great comparisons and talks about which drivers are similar to some of the NFL's quarterbacks ... We will revisit all the throwback paint schemes set for Darlington in a gallery ... @nascarcasm drafts up a Facebook page using his wit and comedic puns. WEDNESDAY: Paint schemes will be on display this weekend at Darlington Raceway , and we'll have them all in Paint Scheme Preview ... As Kevin Harvick holds the points lead and has secured himself a Chase berth, senior writer Holly Cain wonders if he is even better this year than he was last year ... High 5 presents the best NASCAR content from around the web. THURSDAY: Driver Reports is back this week and highlights the 16 drivers who currently have a spot in the Chase ... Kathy Sheldon drafts up some Darlington dreams from drivers before they are set to hit the track on Friday for practice. FRIDAY: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series gets on track at Darlington Raceway with a couple of practices ... 8 Tweets highlights the best from social media in the past week. Also coming this week: Kenny Bruce will cover Bill Elliott getting inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame on Thursday.
RELATED: Complete race lineup Ben Rhodes won the Twenty One Means Twenty One pole for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville on Saturday as rain washed out the qualifying session. Rhodes, who was the 2014 K&N Pro Series East champion, landed on the front row for Saturday's race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) based on his top speed in the first practice. Defending XFINITY series champion Chase Elliott will start alongside Rhodes on the front row for the 45-lap race on the 4.048-mile Wisconsin road course. For Rhodes, a NASCAR Next product and the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, this was his first pole in a major NASCAR series. This will be Rhodes' seventh race this season in the XFINITY Series. He finished 35th and 10th in this year's previous road-course races at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio, respectively. Ryan Blaney , Justin Marks and Brian Scott rounded out the top five in the starting lineup. Current series points leader Chris Buescher was sixth. And Boris Said , the highest-ranking Toyota driver, was seventh in what may be his last NASCAR race. RELATED: Is this Said's final run?
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."