By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – When the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season began, Blake Koch and his Kaulig Racing team were just getting started. The No. 11 LeafFilter Chevrolet Camaro team did not move into their new shop until just before the first Dover race in May.
Fast forward to the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the final race in the Round of 12 of the Xfinity Series Chase, Koch and Kaulig Racing are moving on to the Round of Eight.
Koch was fourth fastest in the first practice and sixth fastest in the final practice. After qualifying was rained out, Koch lined up in sixth position on the starting grid.
The race got off to a fast start. Koch slid back, outside the Top 10.
By Lap 50 he was in 14th and stayed around there for the next quarter of the race.
The long green flag run brought several green flag pit stops. As the pit stops cycled through, Koch found himself in 13th, one lap down.
Although he was never able to climb back into the Top 10, Koch was just inside the Chase cut-off throughout the race.
When the checkered flag waved, Koch was 12th on track with one point to spare over the Chase cut-off.
Koch was ecstatic that he and Kaulig Racing were advancing to the Round of Eight.
“I felt like I won the race,” Koch said. “I said I wanted to do a burn out… I started fist pumping. It’s a great feeling, it’s unbelievable actually.”
“Just to make the Chase, I’m super proud of my team. Thank you to LeafFilter Gutter Protection and Xfinity for having this Chase. I’ve been in the series for almost seven years, and this is the coolest couple of months I’ve ever experienced. I’ve got to give it up to Matt Kaulig for starting this race team. A year ago, a lot of people didn’t know what Kaulig Racing is, now a lot of people do.”
Koch and Kaulig Racing will now look to Kansas Speedway as they try to move from the Round of Eight to the Championship Four at Homestead.