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XFINITY

BLAKE KOCH: “We Needed This Momentum”

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – Blake Koch has flown under the radar in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season.

Despite not producing staggering statistics, performances similar to his 11th-place run in Saturday’s Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 have placed the Kaulig Racing team in a comfortable position as the Playoffs approach.

“Throughout this year, we’ve had a lot of speed,” Koch told POPULAR SPEED. “We’ve had some great accomplishments – two stage wins, a pole.”

However, the No. 11 team is rebounding after a challenging stretch of races between Dover and Kentucky as they finished outside the top-20 in six consecutive events before recovering at New Hampshire.

“But we went through a phase there where we needed to turn it around,” Koch said. “Going to New Hampshire, we just felt like our season was going to turn around and it did. We left there with a solid finish, and had speed ever since.”

Kaulig Racing has steadily improved over the last month and captured an organization-best finish of seventh at Road America last weekend.

However, Koch believes Darlington is their most impressive feat so far this season.

“And we come to here, statistically my worst track and have one of the best runs at a bigger track of the year for us,” Koch said.

It comes at the perfect time with Richmond next on the schedule and the Playoffs two weeks away.

“We needed this momentum going to our best race track, Richmond,” Koch said. “We feel like we can really be very competitive next week at Richmond and then just get prepared for the Playoffs.”

He hasn’t finished outside the top-15 in the last three races at Richmond, and the field will run composite bodies next Friday night, which could further even the playing field and present one of his best opportunities of the year.

Once the post-season begins, Koch will look to replicate and better his 2016 performance.

After entering the final seven races as the underdog, Koch advanced to the second round and nearly made the Championship 4.

Few expected the first-year organization to pull off such a challenging feat, but by beating some of the series’ top contenders, it proves this team can get the job done.

They are improving at the right time and by continuing to build momentum and capture consistent finishes, it could fuel another deep Playoff run this fall. 

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.