Inside The Garage With Blake Koch

Photo Credit (SEC_Imaging-Stephen Conley)

The mantra for NASCAR Xfinity Series is “”Names Are Made Here.”  Making a name for themselves is second year team owner and sponsor Matt Kaulig and his driver Blake Koch.

If you are not familiar with these names, let’s take a step inside of the hauler and get to know the driver.

Wheeling the No. 11 Leaf Filters Chevrolet Camaro in the Xfinity Series is Blake Koch, a bit of a later bloomer when it comes to racing. After all, Koch got his start at the age of 21.

Furthermore, Koch made his first Xfinity start in 2009 at Memphis. However, it wasn’t until late in 2014 when he started a race in Charlotte in the No. 32 Ford for Archie St. Hilaire with a new sponsor in Leaf Filters.

This is when a partnership and what Koch calls a “great friendship” began.

After running two races with Kaulig and Leaf Filter in 2014, Kaulig decided he wanted to go run in the Xfinity Series. So, Koch and Kaulig joined Mark Smith in the Xfinity Series to run full time in 2015. At the end of that season, Kaulig decided on another change.

As Koch said, “We love this series and Matt went from being a sponsor to a team owner, which is a great accomplishment for anybody.”

Both are happy and one of the most important things for Kaulig Racing and Koch is family.

“Being home on Sundays with our families, we both have young kids,” Koch pointed out.

Kaulig has a 10 year old daughter while Koch has a wife and kids at home as well.  Spending at least one day of the weekend with family is important.

Koch mentioned that his partnership with Matt Kaulig and his family at Leaf Filters is unlike any other sponsorship. Owners that are sponsors are a rare find, especially ones that are able to be successful.

As Koch said, “He (Kaulig) is a very successful businessman, very smart and he’s been able to grow Kaulig Racing in to what it is today.”

And what that is today is a second year team that has made the Xfinity series playoffs in back to back years.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be the driver for this team.” – Blake Koch

In 2016, Koch would come a few spots short in making the final four in Homestead. The No. 11 team started off the playoffs at Kentucky struggling to find the handle on a very narrow race track.

All told, the Kaulig Racing team started and finished 17th. While it may not have been the race they were hoping for, Koch has faith in this race team.

“Matt and Lisa Kaulig have done so much for me and my family that I really want to give something back to them…like a championship trophy, or any trophy for that matter,” Koch said.

Also, Koch and his team are still looking for that first career win, but he said after winning their first pole this year and some stages, a win is close.

“We all come here to win, each and every week,” Koch said.

In any case, Koch doesn’t believe that you have to win to make the final four.

“You may have to win Homestead, but not to get there,” Koch observed.

Presently, Koch sits 32 points out of the lead, but only nine out of the coveted eighth spot with two more races in the Round of 12.

The pressure is on, but Koch says they have a plan.

“You really have to race these playoffs smart too,” Koch remarked. “You can’t take yourself out of contention and you have to make sure you run all of the laps, have good solid days, and keep moving forward.”

With the pressure of the playoffs and a second year team with a driver that started racing later than most, are they in a good spot and can they overcome the lack of experience?

Koch certainly believe they can, as he believes they are in a good spot.

“You always want to be better but one thing I know for sure is I’m doing everything I possibly could,” Koch said.

He continues to work hard and learn week in and out, adding, “I’ve come a long way since I started racing, I’ve put myself in a great situation with great people.”

Photo Credit (SEC_Imaging-Stephen Conley)

The championship is never easy for any driver or team, but Koch believes with Kaulig, Chris Rice (crew chief) and the entire No. 11 team, he’s got everything he needs to capitalize on opportunities presented to him, and the championship is the goal.

“It will take hard work, and I’m working harder than any other driver to get better, and I believe that,” Koch said.

As a second year team, for Kaulig Racing and Blake Koch, a fan base takes time to develop. In actuality, Koch is a fan friendly, approachable driver. In fact, he said if you don’t know him, come and find him and talk to him.

Safe to say, Koch loves to interact with the fans, whether it’s on social media or at the track. As he handles his Twitter and Instagram accounts, fans can find him every other Monday doing a Facebook Live event.

“I’m a fan too,” he said. “So it means a lot to see these fans come out to the track. It’s all about having fun. From the camping to sitting in the stands and eating all the food you want, I love the fans that support us and have just as much as they do.

“The fans that picked me as their driver, that’s something really special to me. It really means a lot. Like I said, I didn’t start racing till I was 21, so I didn’t grow up in it.”

Koch observed that when things happen like this in your 20’s, you really know what’s going on.

“I know how special it is for people to be wearing my t-shirts, and to follow me on social media,” he said. “I can relate to the fans.  When the fans treat me like they know me personally, I love it and I treasure it. And that’s not just a pitch to get the most popular driver vote, but it would be such a huge honor knowing what my fans mean to me.”

Candidly, Koch admits his career started late, but loves every minute of what he is doing. That said, sports is for a limited time only. We’ve seen that it’s hard to be successful at an “elevated” age.

Koch observed how he excelled at sports and anything he puts his mind too. Truly, it is a common trend found in most athletes, but would you be surprised to hear that after racing, he could be your pool guy?

That’s right, Blake Koch, “Pool Man Inc” maybe.

When it comes to a secret talent, Koch observed, “I take care of my own pool.  I clean it, I do the chemicals, and I am my own pool guy.”

After the race is over, the pool is clean, and it’s time for dinner. Who reigns supreme in the kitchen of the Koch household?

“I’m the one that grills, but my wife is the one doing a lot of the prep with the vegetables and the oven,” Koch said. “It’s really a joint effort.”

For Koch, racing in the Xfinity Series gives him that extra day off. One thing Koch does almost everyday is make breakfast for his kids.

It may just be popping waffles in the toaster and putting peanut butter or syrup on them. To his kids, he is a superstar in the kitchen.

Blake Koch may race a car for several hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But you may never find another guy that is as “normal” and as average as the rest of us. He just has a really cool job.

You can follow Blake on his social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/BlakeKRacing/

https://twitter.com/BlakeKochRacing

https://www.instagram.com/blakekochracing/

cybrwolf0@gmail.com'
Stephen Conley

If it races, I’ll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University where the Indians an Browns just didn’t do it for me.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it’s been an exciting ten years so far having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and Indycar at Mid-Ohio.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras, plus I also host a weekly show called Race Talk Live every Wednesday night at 8EST.

I have a full time job working at a local Country radio station that is also the MRN affiliate in central Ohio, I host an overnight show, plus I’m the sports director, writing and producing programs on our AM sports channel and getting relevant local sports for our two FM channels and handling all the NASCAR coverage.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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