By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Two hundred is not only the distance of this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen, the Zippo 200, but when the engines are fired, it will also be the number of career starts for Blake Koch. Once again, Koch is looking to put his No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro in the Playoffs for the second year in a row.
In five previous starts at Watkins Glen International, Koch has a best finish of 18th in 2015. His best start at the 2.45-mile road course is 14th last year.
At the start of his career, Koch never imagined that he would ever have 200 NASCAR starts.
“When I started racing my goal was to make just one NASCAR start,” said Koch. “I never imagined I would have made 200. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and know the 300th will be here before I know it.”
In Koch’s previous 199 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, he has seven top-10 finishes and one pole position that came at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year. Two of those top-10 finishes came this season, and all seven have been with Kaulig Racing.
Koch credits team owner Matt Kaulig with the change in his career.
“Meeting Matt Kaulig and his family and helping to form Kaulig Racing changed the course of my career,” Koch added. “It’s amazing what we have been able to accomplish in the short time Kaulig Racing has been a team and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Koch also has nine other starts on road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His best road course finish is a 12th place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year.
With Watkins Glen kicking of a stretch of road courses for the Xfinity Series, Koch expressed his excitement for the return to the discipline over the next month.
“I really do enjoy road course racing. This weekend at Watkins Glen will be different with the new downforce package for the XFINITY cars. The most difficult part of the track for me is typically the esses so we will make the most of practice and put all of the moving pieces together. We have great engines, brakes and people so we have all of the right ingredients for our No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy to run well at road courses.”
In Friday’s two practice sessions Koch was 21st and 15th fastest respectively. In total he completed 15 laps, three in session one and 12 in session two.
Koch currently sits 10th in the Championship Point Standings, 333 points behind leader Elliott Sadler, and has earned one Playoff Point. He has a 35-point cushion over J.J. Yeley who sits 13th in points. Brendan Gaughan, who holds the cutoff for the Playoffs, is 21-points behind Koch.
Now Koch will look to have fun at the twists and turns of Watkins Glen as he tries to extend his gap over his competitors.