Blake Koch, driver of the No. 24 SR2 Motorsports Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will be writing a driver diary for NASCAR-Examiner.com throughout the 2013 race season. Below, is his first entry in which he looks back at the first two races of the season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
"Our team has been through a lot of changes through the off season and into this year. We’re aiming to get better each week. We want to become more and more competitive as the season progresses. So far we’re on the right track. Of course as a team grows and develops, there are going to be a few struggles along the way, but I’m really excited about what I’ve seen from my SR2 Motorsports team.
"At Daytona, it’s anybody’s race. The track is the great equalizer. All it takes is for someone to be in the right spot at the right time. Just about anyone in the 43 car field can take the checkers. There have been some huge upsets at restrictor plate tracks and I was looking to add my name to that list. I knew our car was good enough to run up front and fight with the leaders, so I was really excited about the race. You have to be pretty aggressive when you race at Daytona, and I took a few risks that ended up getting me knocked out early. It was definitely disappointing and I hated to see our day end like that. Our team put a lot of work into preparing my car and I wanted to have a good finish to show for it. If I didn’t think my car had what it took to race for the win, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. I knew it could have been a good day, so I was bummed. But like I told my guys, "If we keep putting cars that good on the track, it’s going to be a great season ahead."
"We went to Phoenix the week after that. We struggled a little bit when we unloaded there. The car was really tight when we practiced. It just didn’t want to turn. We made tons of changes, but none seemed to get the car where we needed it. When the race started, it was still pretty tight, but the guys in the pits did an amazing job. They kept chipping away at it and made some great adjustments. The handling came around and it was pretty sporty by the end of the race. We ended up finishing on the lead lap and nearly got a top-15. I’m really proud of that. Our guys never gave up and never stopped working hard. The team’s chemistry is really coming together and I’m really encouraged to see that.
"That’s how you grow as a team. You keep your car in one piece and learn from that car, and learn from that track. We’ve left with good notes and ideas from Phoenix, and that will have us a lot more prepared for our return.
"As they say, "That’s how it goes in big time auto racing." You’ll have lots of ups and downs. I know that at the end of the day, we’re a solid team and we have all the potential in the world. That’s what’s most important and I can’t lose sight of that. If we can treat our season like we did the race weekend at Phoenix, it will be a great season for sure. It’s all about never giving up and fighting hard until the checkered flag."
-- Blake Koch
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR