Sunday, August 18, 2013

N’WIDE: Blake Koch Takes The First NASCAR Last-Place Finish At Mid-Ohio

Blake Koch picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when his #00 VIP Poker Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 2 of the race’s 94 laps.

The finish was Koch’s second of the 2013 Nationwide Series season, his first since Dover, eleven races ago.  Koch joins Joey Gase as the only other repeat last-place finishers this season other than leader Jeff Green.

Since Dover, Koch has made two starts in SR2 Motorsports’ #24, finishing 22nd at Michigan and 27th at Chicagoland.  His remaining six starts in that span have come in the team’s “start-and-park” #00, a car which failed to qualify at Daytona in July.  Koch and the #00 have finished in the Bottom Five in all but one of those starts, a 34th at Kentucky.

Koch secured the 40th and final starting spot with a speed of 91.027 mph.  He edged T.J. Bell for the final spot by just over one tenth of a second, bumping Bell’s #42 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet along with new teammate and Richmond last-placer Dexter Stacey in TMG’s #46.  Tim Cowen, whose #86 Ford failed to complete a qualifying run on Saturday, failed to qualify with Bell and Stacey.

Koch pulled behind the wall during the opening green-flag run, beating Chase Miller by a single lap.  Miller, who’s run most of the year for TMG, was taking a turn in the LASTCAR Nationwide Championship-leading #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota, a car which still had the name of its primary driver - Jeff Green - above the windows.  Green took over for Eric McClure in the fully-funded #14 Hefty / Reynolds Wrap Toyota and came home on the lead lap in 24th.

Ryan Ellis, making his first Nationwide Series start since June 2012 at Road America in the #52 Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet, fell out after 29 laps with brake trouble, followed six laps later by Osterund, Sweden native Alx Danielsson, who was making his NASCAR debut driving three-time LASTCAR Cup Champion Derrike Cope’s #73 Vaepe / Bactiguard Chevrolet.  It was the Cope team’s first Nationwide start since Kentucky.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Reed Sorenson, whose #40 Swisher e-Cigarettes Chevrolet suffered its fourth engine failure in the last seven races.

Finishing 2nd behind A.J. Allmendinger on Saturday was two-time and defending LASTCAR Cup Series Champion Michael McDowell, who had a career weekend at the track.  Driving the #18 K-LOVE Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, McDowell won his first NASCAR pole since the Road America event in 2011, led eight laps, and equaled his career-best runner-up finish at Road America in 2012.

*This was the first time that both Koch and the #00 have ever finished last in a Nationwide Series race on a road course.

40) #00-Blake Koch / 2 laps / vibration
39) #10-Chase Miller / 3 laps / vibration
38) #52-Ryan Ellis / 29 laps / brakes
37) #73-Alx Danielsson / 35 laps / suspension
36) #40-Reed Sorenson / 62 laps / engine

1st) Jeff Green (10)
2nd) Joey Gase, Blake Koch (2)
3rd) Tanner Berryhill, Johanna Long, Eric McClure, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson, Jr., Morgan Shepherd, Dexter Stacey, Mike Wallace (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (10)
2nd) #52-Jimmy Means Racing, #00-SR2 Motorsports (2)
3rd) #14-TriStar Motorsports, #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #27-SR2 Motorsports, #70-ML Motorsports, #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures, #92-KH Motorsports,#01-JD Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (17)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge, Ford (1)

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