Koch sets focus on 2017 XFINITY Series campaign
By Dominic Aragon
January 12, 2017
The start of the 2017 NASCAR season isn’t for six weeks, but NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Blake Koch is ready to kick off his second season driving for Matt Kaulig at Kaulig Racing.
“I’m ready to get back racing, that’s for sure,” Koch said.
The 2016 season featured career-bests for the 31-year-old driver. Koch, who qualified for the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, the series’ post-season, finished the year with five top-ten finishes and seventh overall in points.
“Watching Kaulig Racing come to life is a feeling I will never forget,” he said. “Last year, we set goals going into the year and we achieved those goals.”
Among those goals achieved were running inside the top-15 on a consistent basis, making the Chase and finishing top-ten in points.
Now, Koch has another goal for 2017.
“I really want to win a race,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I can do it, that I belong racing up front, competing for wins, and I’m in a situation that I think we can go do that.”
Koch credited the ownership role of Matt Kauling and team crew chief and general manager Chris Rice for their on-track success as a first-year team last season.
“Before Kaulig Racing, I raced for numerous teams that didn’t have the money they needed, I didn’t have the sponsors I needed, and I didn’t truly know if I’d run up front, and I know that now,” Koch said.
“And the level of confidence I have and the work I’ve been putting in is going to lead to competing for wins.”
In addition to his XFINITY Series experience, Koch has raced five times in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the premier series.
Koch discussed the possibility of Kaulig Racing fielding a Cup Series car in 2017, saying there is “zero chance” of that happening.
“Beyond that, you never know,” he said. “But 2017, we want to be a championship-winning XFINITY Series team.
“We want to win races, and to go field a car in the Cup Series—first of all, it’s unrealistic to say that we could put together a Cup team and go run up front against Jimmie Johnson.”
Koch hasn’t started a Cup Series race since 2014 and said it would not be his sole decision to run in the series if a team approached him about driving their car.
“It’s all up to Matt,” he said. “The relationship I have with Matt Kaulig is unlike any other driver-owner relationship. If I had a Cup team call me to drive their car, I’d say ‘Call Matt,’ and Matt would tell me what he thinks I should do, and that’s what I would do.”
For the time being, Koch says he plans to spend time with his family leading up to the 2017 season.