Blake Koch

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Ryan Truex replaces Blake Koch at Kaulig Racing in Xfinity Series

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Ryan Truex will drive the No. 11 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series, replacing Blake Koch, the team announced Tuesday.

Koch drove the No. 11 in the team’s first two seasons.

Truex, the younger brother of 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., will compete in his first full-time season in Xfinity.

The announcement comes after it was announced last week that the 25-year-old driver parted ways with Hattori Racing Enterprises in the Camping World Truck Series.

On SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint,” Truex discussed the move to Kauling Racing, which he said reminds him of Furniture Row Racing, the team his brother competes for.

“Really excites me for the future,” Truex said. “I’m annoying. I’ve just been kind of floating around the past few years and bugging people, trying to keep my name out there and doing everything I can and luckily it’s worked out.”

Truex said getting the deal with Kaulig Racing was “kind of roller coaster,” with him not thinking it would get done at one point.

“I’m honestly glad it’s done and we can focus on going out and performing and doing our jobs,” Truex said.

Last year was Truex’s first full-time season in the Truck Series. He earned eight top fives, 13 top 10s and two poles. He finished the season ninth in the standings.

Koch, in his second season with Kaulig Racing, earned five top 10s and his first pole (Talladega). He made the playoffs but failed to advance out of the first round, finishing 11th.

Truex has 39 Xfinity starts since 2010. He has two top fives with a best finish of second in 2012 at Dover from the pole. That race was one of 13 Truex competed in for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Truex won back-to-back K&N Pro Series East championships in 2009 and 2010.

“When we started this team two years ago I knew we had the potential to be one of the strongest teams in the Xfinity Series and I think we’re within reach of that goal,” team owner Matt Kaulig said in a press release. “Ryan is going to be a great addition to the team and I have some high hopes for this season. Each year we keep improving as a team and I think this season we’ll be able to get some wins and make another run in the playoffs. Everyone at Kaulig Racing is excited to have Ryan on board and it should be a great, fun year.”

Kaulig Racing is part of a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.

“Luckily having the Childress ecosystem around us I can go talk to Austin (Dillon), talk to Ty (Dillon), talk to (Daniel) Hemric, and get their insights and what they think I need to do or what I need to change to get used to these cars,” Truex said.

Kaulig is also the CEO and owner of LeafFilter Gutter Protection, which was the primary sponsor for Koch the last two seasons.

On SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive,” Kaulig said that Bar Harbor Sea Food, which backed Truex in the Truck Series, will be his primary sponsor with LeafFilter still involved in some capacity. Other sponsorship will be announced at a later date.

Also appearing on the “The Morning Drive,” Koch said LeafFilter Gutter Protection not returning as the primary sponsor is why he’s no longer driving the No. 11.

“I knew they were looking (for a driver with a sponsor),” Koch said. “I didn’t have time to get one, really. I got the official word a couple of days ago, but I pretty much knew in mid-December that I was going to have to figure something out. So it wasn’t a complete shock, because everything wasn’t officially done until yesterday.”

Koch said there is no hard feelings between him and Kaulig.

“I don’t want people mad at Matt Kaulig thinking he kicked me out,” Koch said. “This is a mutual thing. We talked and Matt owns LeafFilter. He was putting  a lot of his own money into having me drive a race car. You just can’t do that forever.”

On “The Morning Drive,” Kaulig said the team is adding 15,000 square feet to its shop in Welcome, North Carolina, which is on the RCR campus, and it plans to field a second car this season.

Kaulig said there’s a “100 percent chance” he’d bring Koch back to drive the second car, but added there’s no hard date for when the second team needs to be in operation, saying it may not make its first start until a few races into the season.

“We’re shopping the second car right now, but we won’t run the second car without sponsorship,” Kaulig said.

Kyle Larson fastest in crash-shortened Xfinity practice at Texas

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Kyle Larson had the hammer down in Friday’s second and final Xfinity series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

Larson covered the 1.5-mile oval with a run of 190.631 mph, more than 2 mph faster than Ryan Blaney (188.488 mph).

Erik Jones was third (188.436), followed by William Byron (187.885) and Elliott Sadler (187.800).

Blake Koch, who was fastest in the first practice session of the day, was sixth in the final practice (187.650 mph), followed by Austin Dillon (187.591), Cole Custer (187.572), Christopher Bell (187.396) and Matt Tifft (187.350).

The session was cut short by approximately 15 minutes after Daniel Hemric spun and backed into the wall, sustaining heavy damage.

“Something in the rear end broke and that was it,” Hemric said after being checked and released from the infield medical center. “It’s not ideal by any means, but I have faith in these RCR guys (will get his back-up car competitive).”

NASCAR officials tried to clean the track to allow cars additional practice time, but time expired and NASCAR was unable to add time because the NASCAR Cup qualifying session was slated to start shortly afterward.

Click here for the final practice speed chart.

Blake Koch fastest in first of 2 Xfinity practices at Texas Motor Speedway

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Blake Koch was fastest in the first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices this afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.

Koch covered the 1.5-mile oval at 189.347 mph, nearly 2 mph faster than second fastest, Daniel Hemric (187.461 mph).

Kyle Larson was third (187.350), followed by Erik Jones (187.207), Ryan Blaney (187.201), Austin Dillon (186.851), Ty Dillon (186.670), Elliott Sadler (186.316), Christopher Bell (186.258) and Matt Tifft (186.079).

The second practice session takes place at 5 to 5:55 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the first practice speed grid.

 

 

Points penalty won’t affect Matt Tifft’s position in playoffs

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NASCAR penalized an Xfinity Series playoff team Wednesday, but it won’t affect its points position entering the Round of 8 that begins next week at Kansas Speedway.

Matt Tifft’s No. 19 Toyota was docked 10 drivers and owners points for being found too low after finishing ninth Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The deduction is applied after the Round of 12 cutoff race and before the points were reset for the next round. Tifft still advances because he was 16 points ahead of the cutoff line, though the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be without crew chief Matt Beckman, who was suspended from the next race.

Tifft will begin the next round in eighth place with 3,004 points, 22 behind leader William Byron.

The No. 11 Chevrolet of Blake Koch also was found to be too low, earning a 10-point deduction and one-race suspension for crew chief Chris Rice. Koch already was eliminated from the playoffs after the three-race Round of 12.

Rice and Beckman also were fined $10,000 apiece.

In the Monster Energy Cup Series, NASCAR issued a $10,000 fine to Scott Graves, crew chief for Daniel Suarez, for an unsecure lug nut after Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR also announced the indefinite suspension of Dennis O’Connor for violating the substance abuse policy. Crew member Reid T. Ferguson was reinstated from indefinite suspension after completing the Road to Recovery program.

 

Alex Bowman triumphs at Charlotte for first career Xfinity victory

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CONCORD, North Carolina — Alex Bowman, making his first Xfintiy Series start of the season, took the lead with 32 laps left and won Saturday night’s rain-delayed race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While Bowman, who will take over Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Cup ride next season, celebrated his first career Xfinity win, four the 12 playoff contenders were eliminated from title contention.

Ryan Reed held on for the eighth and final transfer spot to the next round, beating Brendan Gaughan by one point. 

Advancing to the next round of the playoffs are Justin Allgaier, William Byron, Elliott Sadler, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft and Reed.

Eliminated from title contention were Brendan Gaughan, Jeremy Clements, Blake Koch and Michael Annett.

MORE: Race results

More: Points report

Sam Hornish Jr. finished second. Ryan Blaney, who won the May race at this track, placed third.

Rain delayed the start of the race more than five hours.

That didn’t matter to Bowman, who scored his first series win in 51 starts.

To get my first win here in my second home at Charlotte means so much,’’ Bowman told NBCSN.

Stage 1 Winner: Erik Jones

Stage 2 Winner: Daniel Suarez

Who else had a good race: Sam Hornish Jr. started 31st in just his fifth start of the season. He was up to second at the beginning of the final stage and ran in the top five most of the rest of the night, finishing second. … Brennan Poole placed fifth, ranking as the highest-finishing playoff driver. It marked his third consecutive top-five finish.

Who had a bad race: Blake Koch battled power steering issues, losing a lap before the opening stage ended. He fell a second lap down and never recovered, finishing 25th.  … Angela Ruch brought out the first two cautions for incidents and finished 36th. … Justin Allgaier hit a battery from Ruch’s car after her crash and that caused cooling issues. His engine later expired and he finished 33rd. … Spencer Gallagher had a tire go down and it caused too much damage to repair. He finished 34th. … A slow pit stop and then a penalty for an uncontrolled tire in the final 40 laps cost Daniel Suarez a chance for the win. He finished eighth.

Notable: The cars of Matt Tifft and Blake Koch failed inspection after the race. Both cars were too low. The infraction is likely an L1 penalty. A similar infraction earlier this year in the series was a 10-point penalty. Tifft advances to the next round by 16 points, so a 10-p0int penalty wouldn’t alter the eight playoff contenders if that’s the penalty. 

Quote of the night: “That’s what you do in playoffs, that’s what the best playoff teams do in any sport no matter who much you’re down, no matter how much you need, you just find a way,’’ Ryan Reed on advancing by one point to the next round of the playoffs.

What’s next: The series is off until Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.

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