Blaney Scores First NXS Charlotte Win
CONCORD, N.C— After multiple restarts in the final 20 laps, Ryan Blaney scored his first win of 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Hisense 4K TV 300.
“It was really tough. We kept having tons and tons of cautions,” Blaney said. “We lost the lead on a pit stop when we kind of got blocked in and I wasn’t sure I was going to get a shot at it. It worked out where we could put ourselves in position to get the win and we capitalized on it. Everybody did a great job.”
This is Blaney’s first win since September of 2015 at Kentucky Speedway. This is his fifth victory 56 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, and his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney and his father, Dave, are the first father-son duo to win at Charlotte.
Blaney was able to hold of Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick on a late race restart with four laps remaining. Blaney worked his way towards the front of the field after starting in the rear due to unapproved adjustments after the car was impounded after qualifying.
Harvick finished second in the race after not being able to receive any help on the final restart by Blaney and Brad Keselowski. This is Harvick’s 18th top-10 finish in 28 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his third top-10 of 2017.
“If I could do (the final restart) again I would probably do it differently. I felt like the 12 (Blaney) had the best car on restarts. He was the one who helped us get the lead. Just wasn’t able to get going through one and two. I needed to be clear by the time I got to three and four. I hadn’t been taking the top but I felt if the 12 and 22 got paired up on the top, I would be in double trouble,” said Harvick. I had a heck of a time today. All in all, I just got beat there by the 12. He did a good job all day there on the restarts. I’m really proud of everybody on the team. We ran well and led a bunch of laps.”
Dillon finished in the third position in the race following having to go to the rear after an initial start violation in the opening laps. Dillon dropped to the rear, but was able to work his way to the third position by race end. This was Dillon’s sixth top-10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We did a really good job. Our Chevy really came to us. I hate it for our pit crew there. I messed up on the start. There at the end, I had a Penske sandwich. I couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart but it wasn’t enough to carry me to the front. We had a lot of fun today,” said Dillon. “The track changed and we are trying to figure out what we need here. We’re getting closer.”
Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Brendan Gaughan, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 in Saturday afternoon’s event.
The race was slowed 12 times for 52 laps by caution. There were 12 lead changes among seven drivers with leading the most laps at . The average speed of the race was 113.720 mph. The time of the race was two hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds. Blaney beat Harvick by 0.244 seconds,
Elliott Sadler remains the point leader after his 35th place finish by six points over teammate Justin Allgaier, 57 points over William Byron, 79 points over Daniel Hemric, and 83 points over fifth place driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Next up for the Xfinity Series is the OneMain Financial 200, a Dash4Cash event, from Dover International Raceway. The race will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 on June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Allgaier Scores NXS Pole At Charlotte
CONCORD, N.C— Justin Allgaier will start from the pole in today’s Hisense 4K TV 300 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is his fifth career pole.
In the opening round, Cale Conley went for a spin through the grass coming off the fourth turn, but was able to drive away with minimal damage. Brad Keselowski will start in the rear of the field due to the team being unable to get through inspection five times during qualifying. Dakoda Armstrong was the other driver who did not post a time in qualifying. Cole Custer was fastest in the opening round at 182.457 mph. William Byron was second fastest at 181.330 mph. Christopher Bell was third fastest at 181.214 mph. Matt Tifft was fourth fastest at 180.439 mph. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five at 180.421 mph. Jeff Green and Jordan Anderson were the only two drivers unable to make the show.
In the second round of qualifying, there were two ties for position on the race track. The first tie came between Justin Allagier and Daniel Hemric, both posted a speed of 181.141 mph, but Allgaier took the position over Hemric due to his points position. The second tie came between Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick, both posted a speed of 180.542 mph, but Reddick received the advantage. Bell was fastest in this round at 181.360 mph. Elliott Sadler jumped to second in the final moments with his speed of 181.178 mph. Blaney was third fastest at 181.147 mph. Allgaier was fourth while Hemric rounded out the top-five with their speeds of 181.141 mph.
In the final round, Allgaier posted a speed of 182.488 mph to start from the pole. Austin Dillon will start second with his speed of 181.519 mph. Blaney will start third with his speed of 181.378 mph. Hemric will start from the fourth position with his speed of 181.324 mph. Harvick rounded out the top-five with his speed of 181.245 mph. Custer, Bell, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Reed, and Reddick round out the top-10.
The Hisense 4K TV 300 will go green shortly after 1:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network.
NXS: Hisense 4K TV 300 Preview
After a couple of weekends off, the NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to on-track action at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300. There will be two stage lengths of 45 laps and a final 110 lap shootout on Saturday afternoon.
42 drivers are scheduled to arrive in Charlotte to compete for the 40 car field on Saturday. Todd Bodine will be driving in the 07 car for Ray Black Jr. on Saturday. Cup drivers scheduled to run in the race include Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.
This will be the 36th annual Hisense 4K TV 300 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. There have been 45 different pole winners. 33 different drivers have found their way into victory lane. 11 races have been won from the pole with A. Dillon being the last driver to do so in October of 2015. Mark Martin holds the race record at 155.799 mph set back in 1996. Jimmie Johnson holds the qualifying record set back in 2005 at 187.735 mph.
Xfinity drivers are ready to return to action this weekend in Charlotte.
“Charlotte Motor Speedway is a place that is obviously a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to racing at home this weekend with this Breyers team,” said Elliott Sadler, current points leader. “We had a great test a couple of weeks ago and everybody at JR Motorsports was able to go out there and run laps and I think we learned a lot. We didn’t quite have the speed we were looking for, but we also tried a lot of things and we were able to get a good database of things we tried and what worked and what didn’t. I think that’s even more important at a test.”
“I’m excited for everyone to be able to come out to Charlotte and join me for a lap around the track,” said Ryan Reed. “Getting a look at the banking and making a lap around the 1.5-mile track is a great way to #DriveYourHealth, while also raising money for a great cause and something that I know firsthand can affect so many people.”
“I’m ready to get back behind the wheel of the No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford,” said Harvick. “We had a good test at Charlotte a couple weeks ago and the No. 41 guys are working hard to make our cars better each and every time we go out. (Richard) Boswell (crew chief) has really been working hard, just for the fact that he’s building a team from scratch and we should have a great shot at running up front and competing for SHR’s first XFINITY win.”
Teams will only have two practice sessions on May 25th at 4:00 p.m. EST and 6:00 p.m. EST. Teams will qualify on May 27th at 10:00 a.m. EST. The race will go green shortly after 1:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network.
Through The Ranks: Blake Koch
Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida, Blake Koch started his journey in racing by getting involved in motorcross. At a young age, Koch went to his uncle’s farm and watched them race their dirt bikes around. Koch hopped on a dirt bike and realized that most of the day was gone. From that day forward, it was all about motorcross for Koch. All he could think about at school was going back home and practicing on his dirt bike.
In 2007, Koch watched his first NASCAR race with his step-dad. Koch mentioned that his stepdad would watch and attend NASCAR races. After watching his first race, Koch’s stepdad bought a stock car and entrusted a young Koch to drive for him. Once he drove the stock-car, the rest was history on four wheels for Koch. Koch believes that he was lucky enough to be able to drive a car.
The 31 year old was able to move to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2008. The Xfinity veteran He believes strongly in the K&N program in how it is great for developing younger talent. Koch believes it is a natural progression going through K&N to the NASCAR Xfinity Series because the tracks are bigger, the cars are heavier, and that it is competitive. He believes that it is also a great series to sell sponsorship for drivers because it not only has the NASCAR backing, but that it is a fun series to race in.
During his time in the K&N Series, Koch was recruited for the Richard Childress Racing Driver Development program in 2009. Being younger, Koch did not realize what a special opportunity it was. However, Koch believed it was the appropriate next step in his pursuit of becoming a top driver in NASCAR. Sponsorship is crucial in NASCAR. Koch used the leverage of the NASCAR backing and the development program to sell sponsorship. Now, Koch is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the program.
For the early part of his career in the top-three national series, Koch was considered a start-and-park driver. His main job was to get to the track, don’t crash the car, make the show, and then leave. In 2011, Koch was with McDonald Motorsports. In 2012, Koch began to bounce around organizations as a start-and-park driver. Koch was unable to have team building moments due to the nature of start-and-parking. Despite the nature, Koch never regrets that time as a start-and-park driver because it was able to pay the bills and put food on the table for him and his family.
One of the easiest decisions Koch had to make was when he joined Matt Kaulig in 2016 to start Kaulig Racing. Kaulig and Koch began a relationship when LeafFilter Gutter Protection, the company owned and founded by Kaulig, sponsored Koch in 2014. Koch has high praise for Kaulig. Koch describes Kaulig as a man who does everything first class. When Kaulig puts his mind to something, he takes it to a new level and achieves the goals he set. Koch wanted to be around somebody with a first class attitude. After sponsoring Koch for part of 2014 and all of 2015, he was all in when it came to the decision to move to the newly formed team.
Going into 2016, the team knew what they wanted that they were going to be building a competitive team that had the opportunity to compete for wins and championships. In December, the team sat down and sat goals for the season. They knew they wanted to be in the inaugural Xfinity Series playoffs. From there, they knew they had to be consistent with top-15 finishes. The team was able to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.
For 2017, they came in with the same goals as 2016. However, Koch believes that this is the most competitive he has seen the Xfinity Series since he has been involved since 2011. The big goal for 2017 is to make the final four to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
2016 was a career best year for Koch that gave him the confidence in himself and his team. The biggest boost for Koch was being able to know that he was able to do it. Running in the back of the pack for five to six years took its toll on Koch. He began to question whether it was is driving ability or was it the equipment. Now, with the support of his team and sponsors, Koch has gained a boost in his confidence. The boost came early in 2016 when Koch received his best finish of his career early on in the season. During the season, Koch and his team began to see how committed and great their team owner was. In 2016, they bought a shop and renovated it, and moved into the shop in May of 2016. Koch sees how committed Kaulig is to the series, himself, Chris Rice, his crew chief, and the people involved. With time, they believe they will become a championship caliber team.
Kaulig Racing has carried the wave of momentum from 2016 to 2017. They ended the season seventh in points and now currently sit ninth in points after Talladega. With the momentum, the veteran driver and his team are not losing sight of their goal of making the playoffs a second consecutive year. Koch believes they are able to do this because they have a sponsor who is committed so that they can focus their resources and priorities on winning races.
Koch sees the potential in Kaulig Racing. Koch sees that they can be able to get the top-fives. Koch believes that they are comfortable with top-10’s, but when they get comfortable for top-fives, then they will be ready for wins.
Koch sees the new competition enhancements for 2017 as a positive for NASCAR. He sees this as the most positive change he has seen in the sport since he has been involved. He believes that it is three races built into one to provide better overall and exciting racing for fans and drivers. Because points are extremely valuable, Koch wants to get after as many of those points as possible. As for the aero changes in the Xfinity Series, he believes that the teams have adapted well.
Koch is an active member on social media. He uses social media to create a one on one conversation with fans who have been there from the beginning to fans who have recently hopped on board based on their success last season as the underdog. He thinks that is cool that people want to interact and follow him and have interest in what he says just because he is a race car driver.
Although he is a professional driver, Koch is a husband and father. Koch and his wife, Shannon, recently celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. They have been together for over ten years. According to Koch, Shannon has changed his world. As a kid, Koch always had two questions in his mind: Who am I going to marry and what I am going to do? Koch believes marrying Shannon and then becoming a NASCAR driver created a more “orchestrated” life. Koch is also a father of two. When he had his first child, his priorities began to change. At the end of the day, he hurries home just to be with his wife and kids. Now having a family, Koch began to focus and base his decisions on how it would affect his kids and their futures and Shannon to make sure their needs are met.
Koch is a man of Christian faith. He always strives to find his joy in his relationship with Jesus. He believes that finding that joy helps him get through life not placing value on material things. He believes that it is all about being thankful with the things God has given him to steward whether it be the opportunity to own pressure washing equipment or to drive a racecar. He is thankful for the opportunities God has given him.
At the end of the day, when the time comes, Koch wants to be remembered as the husband and father he could possibly be. He wants Kaulig and other drivers to remember him as the best driver they could possibly ask for on and off the track.
You can follow Koch on Twitter at @BlakeKochRacing. You can also follow Kaulig Racing at @KauligRacing.
Kennedy Scores Top-Five at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Al.— In only his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series start, Ben Kennedy was able to snag a fourth place finish in Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.
Kennedy will race nine times with Richard Childress Racing, while racing for GMS Racing for 12 races
The long off season for Kennedy was full of preparation, including competing in “America Ninja Warrior”. Kennedy spent time at track learning how Austin Dillon interacted with crew chief, Justin Alexander. Kennedy has also watched extensive amounts of film in preparation for running in the Xfiniy Series.
At Talladega, that hard work paid off.
Kennedy started the weekend strong in the only two practice sessions where he was third and fourth. Kennedy also had a strong showing in qualifying on Saturday morning Kennedy was able to make it to the second round and ended up qualifying fourth.
When the green flag fell, Kennedy quickly worked his way to the lead. Kennedy led for five laps throughout the event. Although it was a fourth place finish, Kennedy avoided numerous wrecks in his quest for a top-five finish.
"I learned a lot out there today in the Rheem Chevrolet,” said Kennedy. “I knocked the rust off of it the first couple of laps and then started to get after it. On the last lap, Joey Logano and I had a run, but we just kind of lost our momentum on the high side. It's amazing how these cars run and the lines they run. I got a lot out of today and I'm really happy with the finish. It was a lot of fun.”
Kennedy’s next NASCAR Xfinity Series race will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300.