LONG POND, Pa. (June 10, 2017)
– Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch finished 27th on Saturday at Pocono Raceway after suffering a flat tire on Lap 84. Koch qualified 12th for the 100-lap event after posting top-five lap times in both practice sessions on Friday and the first round of qualifying on Saturday morning.
“We had such a fast No. 11 LeafFilter Chevy this weekend, which is super encouraging, but just couldn’t get all the pieces together for the top-five finish we know we deserved,” said Koch. “I was tight throughout the entire race and didn’t really loosen up until we put new tires on at the end after we had a flat. We look forward to turning our luck around at Michigan next week.”
For the second time in two career-attempts, Koch started 12th at the “Tricky Triangle.” After firing off for the Pocono Green 250, Koch settled into the 16th position and reported that the car’s handling was tight. By the end of the stage, Koch ran 16th and reported he had a bad vibration. Under the caution, crew chief Chris Rice brought Koch down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Koch restarted 20th when the field returned to green to begin Stage 2 on Lap 31.
Koch gained two position after the restart and was up to 18th by Lap 34. He continued to report that his No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy was too tight. As some drivers pitted before the stage ended, Koch crossed the finish line 11th when Stage 2 completed on Lap 50. In attempt to free-up the car and help Koch’s turn on exit, the team pitted on Lap 53 for fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Koch restarted 14th on Lap 55 to begin the final stage.
Koch raced his way up to the 12th position by Lap 61 as differing pit strategies began to come into play. Rice decided to bring Koch down pit road for a fuel-only stop on Lap 64 from then ninth position.
With 25 laps to go, Koch reported the car felt better. He ran 23rd as several drivers had not completed their final pit stops. An unlucky caution with 22 laps to go foiled the attempt to gain track position by taking fuel only on the previous stop, so Koch came down pit road for four fresh tires with 20 laps remaining. As the field made their way to the final restart, Koch reported he had a flat tire. While the field returned to green with 16 laps remaining, Koch was forced to visit pit road to replace the flat tire.
After returning to the track in the 27th position, Koch was running his fastest lap times of the race but did not have enough laps to make up the lost ground. He crossed the finish line 27th at the end of the NXS Pocono Green 250.
Koch is scored 11th in the NXS Championship standings after Saturday’s race at Pocono Raceway. Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team will be back on track Saturday, June 17th at Michigan International Speedway.