By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas — Usually race car drivers are a selfish lot. However when it comes to Justin Allgaier and Blake Koch there is nothing selfish about their friendship. The two drivers faced uncertain futures after the 2015 seasons, but they each landed new gigs in the Xfinity Series. Fast forward eight months and Allgaier and Koch are locked tight in a battle for the final transfer spot to the Xfinity Series championship race in Homestead.
Heading into Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Koch held a five point advantage in the Chase over his best friend Allgaier.
Allgaier battled hard all day long with a car that didn’t quite handle to his liking, but in the closing laps he had a firm grip on a top-10 finish. As Allgaier crossed the finish line at the conclusion of the final lap, Allgaier notched a solid 10th-place finish.
However, when Allgaier exited his car he immediately looked at the scoring pylon. When he saw his friend Koch finished 14th, he knew that he was still behind the eight ball. Heading into the final race before Homestead — Phoenix — Koch holds a slim one point lead over Allgaier, and it appears that the final spot in the Chase will go through the two racers.
Allgaier admitted that he wishes he was in a safer spot currently in the championship hunt, but that it is cool that he is racing his friend for a Chase berth.
“It is [cool], Blake and I have actually had this discussion a lot. I’m super proud of those guys to be in the position they’re in and to be running as well as they have,” Allgaier said. “Like I said a second ago, I’d rather be tons of points ahead and be cheering Blake on trying to help him make the Chase. But at the same time this is what the Chase is all about. We’re facing on the final two, but any of the three guys in front of us two could have trouble at Phoenix and take themselves out.”
When asked if there would be head games played between the two friends over the next week, Allgaier had a definitive answer.
“No,” Allgaier stated. “Honestly I think if we go out there and we will battle it out and have a lot of fun, but I know I have a guy that’s a clean racer and is somebody that I can trust. We’ll race each other hard don’t get me wrong. We’ll have a lot of fun with it. We will enjoy this week for sure.”
As Allgaier answered that question, Koch jokingly stared down Allgaier and signaled that he had his eyes on him. Perhaps the head games have already begun? We have seen friendships ruined in racing, but Koch promises no matter what happens in Phoenix, the two drivers will walk away from the race as friends.
“Him and I both know this is our job, and when we race what happens, happens,” Koch explained. “None of that would affect our friendship.”
The two drivers have a great friendship. Following the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, Koch opened up to Motorsports Tribune about how much Allgaier has helped him to this point in his career.
“He’s my best friend man. He’s been supporting me and helping me. I even wear his Hans device, when I couldn’t afford a Hans device he gave me his to wear and I still wear it to this day,” Koch said. “Just a great friend. A big influence to get me here. I rely on him a ton when thinking about what to do with sponsors and teams throughout my career. Stayed in his motor home dozens of times, stayed with his parents dozens of times.
Watching the battle between the two best friends, will probably be the best storyline next weekend in Phoenix.