The finish was Koch’s eighth of the season and his first since Indianapolis, seven races ago. With seven races remaining, Koch now holds a three-finish lead over teammate and defending LASTCAR Nationwide Champion Jeff Green for the 2014 title.
Since Indianapolis, Koch had parked for TriStar Motorsports in four other races, finishing between 35th and 38th in each. In the two other events, he finished 28th at Atlanta in TriStar’s #44 Wealth Without Borders / wwbworld.com Toyota and was 35th at Bristol in his first start of the year for Rick Ware in the #23 ABS Building Systems / JD Metals Chevrolet. That same Bristol weekend, Koch made his first Truck Series start since Dover in the spring, coming home next-to-last in Mike Mittler’s #36 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool RAM.
At Chicagoland, Koch put up the 39th-fastest speed in the opening practice, then despite a washout of Happy Hour, improved to 32nd in qualifying with a lap of 173.500 mph. This was more than enough to best the four drivers who failed to qualify, including Carl Long in a post-entry for owner Derek White.
Before the start of the race, Cody Ware, named Friday as Rick Ware’s driver in place of Robert Richardson, Jr., was sent to the rear along with teammate Josh Reaume in the #87. Six laps later, Koch followed the #46 The Motorsports Group entry of Ryan Ellis to the garage area, dropping the two to the rear. NASCAR’s online leaderboard briefly credited Ellis with the spot, but it was later updated with Koch trailing the field. Reaume finished 37th, felled by suspension issues.
Finishing between Reaume and Ellis was Canadian driver Martin Roy, whose first Nationwide start since Kentucky driving Mario Gosselin’s #90 Gamache Truck Center / Cote Chevrolet ended with engine troubles. Rounding out the Bottom Five was 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope, whose #70 Youtheory Chevrolet was taken out in a single-car crash on Lap 65.
*This is the third Chicagoland last-place finish for TriStar Motorsports’ #10 and its second in a row in this event. Both finishes were earned by Jeff Green in July 2012 and September 2013. It is Koch’s first Chicagoland last-place finish in any of NASCAR’s top three divisions.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
40) #10-Blake Koch / 5 laps / vibration
39) #46-Ryan Ellis / 5 laps / vibration
38) #90-Martin Roy / 26 laps / engine
37) #87-Josh Reaume / 29 laps / suspension
36) #70-Derrike Cope / 61 laps / crash
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Blake Koch (8)
2nd) Jeff Green (5)
3rd) Kevin Lepage (3)
4th) Matt DiBenedetto (2)
5th) Tanner Berryhill, Ryan Ellis, Matt Frahm, Roger Reuse, Robert Richardson, Jr., Tim Schendel, Jimmy Weller, Josh Wise (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (10)
2nd) #46-The Motorsports Group (5)
3rd) #91-TriStar Motorsports (3)
4th) #74-Mike Harmon Racing (2)
5th) #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #55-VIVA Motorsports / SS Green Light Racing, #77-Mike Harmon Racing, #87-Rick Ware Racing, #93-JGL Racing (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (13)
2nd) Chevrolet (8)
3rd) Dodge (5)