The finish was Koch’s first of the season and his first in a Nationwide race since last fall at Atlanta, eleven races ago. It is also extends TriStar Motorsports’ last-place streak to seven consecutive races, including two in a row at Phoenix.
Koch’s 2014 plans were announced six days before the Daytona 500: he would drive Front Row Motorsports’ #35 Ford in the Cup Series at Phoenix and Las Vegas. They would be his first Cup starts since he drove for Leavine Family Racing at Charlotte last October.
In addition, Koch was also tabbed as driver of the #10 Nationwide Series entry, the car driven by David Starr at Daytona and for most of the last two seasons by all-time LASTCAR leader Jeff Green. Green and the #91 TriStar entry weren’t at Phoenix, and Will Kimmel ran the #44 Koch drove to a 22nd-place finish at Daytona, so Koch was tabbed for “start-and-park” duty.
Koch did not practice in the opening session, then timed in 29th of the 39 entrants in final practice. He then qualified 22nd at an average speed of 129.478 mph, ranking him third among the ten “go-or-go-homers” who attempted the race, trailing only Kevin Harvick and Chris Buescher. However, just after the start of the race, Koch pulled behind the wall.
Finishing next-to-last was Matt DiBenedetto, who brought back The Motorsports Group’s “start-and-park” #46 and missed the final spot by three laps. Rounding out the Bottom I’ve were Carl Long in the second JGL Racing Dodge, Daryl Harr, whose JD Motorsports Chevrolet was wrecked by Brad Keselowski on Lap 21, and Tommy Joe Martins, making his Nationwide debut in his family’s #76.
Koch made the field for the Cup Series race and finished 37th.
*This was Koch’s first last-place finish in a Nationwide race at Phoenix.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #10-Blake Koch / 3 laps / vibration
38) #46-Matt DiBenedetto / 6 laps / electrical
37) #93-Carl Long / 13 laps / brakes
36) #87-Daryl Harr / 18 laps / crash
35) #76-Tommy Joe Martins / 40 laps / electrical
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Jeff Green, Blake Koch (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports, #91-TriStar Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (2)