Sunday, June 2, 2013

N’WIDE: Blake Koch’s Run At Dover Ends With First Last-Place Finish In Two Years

Blake Koch picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200 at the Dover International Speedway when his #00 Toyota fell out with brake problems after he completed 4 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish was Koch’s first of the year and his first since this same race in 2011, when his #82 Dodge was involved in a three-car crash on the opening lap of the 5-Hour Energy 200.

Koch was competing in his tenth start of the 2013 season, his fifth on the Nationwide Series tour.  Driving for Jason Sciavicco’s SR2 Motorsports, Koch began the year driving the team’s primary #24 car and scored a season-best 16th at Phoenix in March.  Ironically, when he switched teams to SR2’s #00 at Talladega, he performed even better, challenging for the lead in the middle stages of the race before he was taken out by Justin Allgaier on Lap 89.  Heading into Dover, he finished a respectable 22nd at Darlington, his third-best finish of the year.

Koch was one of just 38 cars on the preliminary entry list, a field fleshed-out by a pair of “start-and-park” entries: J.J. Yeley in The Motorsports Group’s prolific #46, and Vision Racing’s new #37 with Matt DiBenedetto aboard, a “start-and-park” team car to Darlington last-placer Tanner Berryhill.  Koch qualified behind both new entries in the 39th spot with a lap of 137.357 mph.  40th-place starter Tony Raines in the ML Motorsports #70 Toyota qualified even slower at 115.961 mph, his lap more than seven seconds slower than that of polesitter Austin Dillon.

In the race itself, Koch pulled behind the wall on the opening green-flag run, followed two laps later by DiBenedetto.  Yeley’s TMG car was edged by two laps for 38th by teammate Josh Wise in the #42, while the distinctive purple #89 of 2007 LASTCAR Nationwide Series Champion Morgan Shepherd rounded out the Bottom Five.

One week after selling his spot to Steven Wallace at Charlotte, Jeff Green finished 35th in his #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota.  Other than the Charlotte race, it is the first time this season he has not finished in the Bottom Five.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #00 in a Nationwide Series race since last fall at Charlotte, when Angela Cope’s ride for SR2 in the Dollar General 300 ended with an opening-lap crash coming to the green flag that disabled her #00 Highland Wealth Advisors / Highway 55 Toyota.

40) #00-Blake Koch / 4 laps / brakes
39) #37-Matt DiBenedetto / 6 laps / handling
38) #42-Josh Wise / 9 laps / electrical
37) #46-J.J. Yeley / 11 laps / overheating
36) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 14 laps / engine

1st) Jeff Green (4)
2nd) Tanner Berryhill, Joey Gase, Blake Koch, Johanna Long, Eric McClure, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson, Jr. (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (4)
2nd) #14-TriStar Motorsports, #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #27-SR2 Motorsports, #52-Jimmy Means Racing, #70-ML Motorsports, #00-SR2 Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (9)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)

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