By Chad Bonham
2016 Drive For Safety 300: Chicagoland Speedway (September 17, 2016)
Heading into the 2016 season, Blake Koch had never finished higher than seventeenth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In fact, his career to that point had been quite an adventure having raced in all three major divisions for no less than fifteen different teams.
But Koch wasn’t about to give up on his dream of becoming a competitive stock car driver, and with a renewed commitment from Kaulig Racing, he was on the verge of a breakthrough year. Koch was especially hopeful thanks to the implementation of a brand new “Chase” format that resets the points standings and gives the top twelve drivers an equal chance to race for the championship.
Even still, Koch was considered a long shot to make the playoffs. So as he prepared for the Drive For Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, his place within the top twelve was quite a surprising development. All Koch had to do was maintain that position for one more race to ensure his spot amongst the series’ elite teams.
As the pressure mounted, Koch needed to find a way to relieve some of the stress. His instincts told him to literally work it out.
“Sometimes I get so caught up in training so hard and worrying about what I can do to be a better racer,” Koch told Christian Sports Journal. “Towards the end of the year when I was trying to make the playoffs and there were guys breathing down my neck for that spot, I felt like I had to work and train so hard physically and mentally.”
That’s when he picked up his Bible and found a verse that gave him a different perspective on the situation.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
“That verse reminded me to put God before all of those things,” Koch explained. “I think that’s really what helped me deal with the pressure.”
Koch finished fifteenth in Chicago and solidified his place as the twelfth and final car to advance into the Chase. He then advanced into the round of eight before just missing the Championship Four (and a chance to win the series title at Phoenix International Raceway) by just four points (or four positions on the track). At season’s end, Koch earned a career-best seventh place in the points standings and a career-best five top-five race finishes.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” Koch added. “There’s been a lot of growth for me as a driver and spiritually too. I’ve been plugged in with the right group of guys and that started from the beginning. Sometimes it seems like things aren’t always going the right way, but when I look back I really do love the way everything has happened.”
This devotional is brought to you by Museum of the Bible, a 430,000 square foot museum being constructed 3 blocks south of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is set to open in November of 2017.
(Photos: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)