Two years ago, LeafFilter Gutter Protection entered the XFINITY Series as a sponsor for @BlakeKochRacing. Now entering 2016, Matt Kaulig, the owner of LeafFilter, is taking his commitment to the next level with the formation of Kaulig Racing and Koch as his driver.
“He’s a real competitive guy and likes to be in control and saw how the sponsorship benefited and wanted to start his own team,” Koch told POPULAR SPEED. “When he starts something, he does things first class.”
Kaulig Racing is going all-in for their first season, set to run the full schedule with Koch behind the wheel of the No. 11 entry. The theme, not surprisingly, within the team seems to be excitement, as Koch is not only ready to get on track at Daytona, but to also start working with the guys, see the car, and “everything we’ve been working hard these past couple of months on.”
Coming off of his fifth season in the XFINITY Series, Koch finished 17th in points last year with three top-20 finishes. Despite being involved in the midst of a brand new deal, the team is setting their expectations high, looking to be one of the 12 drivers to qualify for the inaugural Chase for the Championship.
“You have to race differently towards the end of the year, and even the beginning of the year compared to last year,” Koch said of the format. “I think I read somewhere that Daniel Suarez would’ve been the champion so really you never know who will be the champion contender come Homestead. I think it makes things exciting.”
Koch is hoping to add to the excitement as he says if they can make the Chase, they’re going to try their hardest to stay in contention and be there at the end.
The pieces look to be in place to make that happen, as Kaulig Racing seems to be putting the right personnel and pieces in place. They’ve formed a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, an established organization that challenged for the championship last year with @tydillon.
Chris Rice was hired to serve not only as the team’s General Manager but crew chief. Rice brings experience, having been involved in the XFINITY Series over the past 12 years. The addition of Rice has Koch enthusiastic because the pair have already built chemistry between them.
“We’ve been friends for years and working together,” Koch said. “We’ve been working on putting this team together, and last time we worked together was at Homestead. We’re great friends, and we’re in this thing together. I think we have the best chemistry in the garage.”
Koch and Rice worked together once before at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2013. The pairing resulted in a career-best finish for Koch with an 11th after starting on the front row.
It is that same success which will drive Koch and company once the green flag falls in Daytona.