Mechanical Woes Ruins Custer’s Day At Mid-Ohio

Cole Custer

Date: Aug. 12, 2017

Event: Mid-Ohio Challenge (Round 21 of 33)


Location: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington (2.4-mile road course)

Format: 75 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/35 laps)

Start/Finish: 9th/35th (Running, completed 54 of 75 laps)

Point Standing: 6th (505 points, 258 out of first)


Race Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Blake Koch of Kaulig Racing (Chevy)

Stage 2 Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. of Team Penske (Ford)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

● Started ninth, finished 40th.

● Due to Custer making contact with the grass in qualifying, he started the Mid-Ohio Challenge with his backup Haas Automation Ford Mustang.

● On lap two, a mechanical failure forced Custer to the pits.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

● Started 40th, finished 37th.

● After repairs, Custer entered the field 22 laps down at the start of Stage 2.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-75):

● Started 37th, finished 35th.

● Custer gained one lap during the final stage.

● Due to multiple accidents, Custer gained two spots before the conclusion of the race.



 Nine cautions slowed the race for 27 laps.

● Sam Hornish Jr. won the Mid-Ohio Challenge to score his fifth career XFINITY Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Mid-Ohio.


Blake Koch Earns A Career Best Finish At Mid-Ohio

Blake Koch

Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch earned a track-best start of third and a track-best finish of 11th on Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native won Stage 1 of the event, finished 10th in Stage 2 and rebounded from an incident on Lap 51 to finish 11th.

“It was awesome to win a stage today in front of all of the LeafFilter Gutter Protection employees who came out to their home track to support our team,” said Koch. “We had such a fast car this weekend and the team did a great job repairing the damage to the right rear to carry us to the finish. After a great points day, I’m excited to head to Bristol next week to get back to oval racing on a short track.”

After arriving in Ohio on Thursday to visit LeafFilter Gutter Protection’s corporate headquarters in Hudson, the team arrived at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday ready to lay down some fast laps in practice. Unfortunately, severe thunderstorms cancelled all on-track actitivty for the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Friday, moving the team’s sole practice session to Saturday morning. Koch finished eighth in that practice session and carried that confidence into qualifying Saturday afternoon, scoring a track-best starting spot of third.

After the drop of the green flag, the field made one complete lap before the race was slowed by caution for oil on the track. Koch maintained the third position through a lengthy clean-up period. The race returned to green on Lap 8, but fell under caution and eventually a red flag with five laps remaining in Stage 1. When the red was lifted, the leader pitted and Koch assumed the second position for the restart with just two laps remaining in the stage. With just one lap remaining, Koch took the lead and maintained it to win Stage 1, capturing 10 stage points and one playoff point.

Crew chief Chris Rice brought Koch down pit road under the stage caution for four fresh tires and fuel. A delayed entry into the pit box relegated Koch to a 24th-place position for the restart on Lap 23 to begin Stage 2.

Just five laps after the restart, Koch had raced his way up to the 19th position and was still running faster lap times than the leader.  He managed to avoid a wreck in front of him on Lap 32 as he climbed to the 14th position. He continued to pick off cars as the stage went on, eventually making the pass for the 10th position just before the stage ended on Lap 40. Koch earned one bonus point for his 10th-place stage finish.

Koch visited pit road under the stage caution for four fresh tires, fuel and to add some tape on the grille. He restarted ninth on Lap 44 to start the final stage of the Mid-Ohio Challenge.

The caution was displayed again on Lap 48 while Koch was running eighth.  The field returned to green on Lap 51. As the field worked Lap 51, Koch was tagged from behind and sent spinning across the course, collecting several cars and suffering severe damage to the right rear of his No. 11 Camaro. The team pitted twice to work on the damage before running out of time on the five-minute crash clock. With all parts and pieces on the No. 11 machine secured, Koch restarted 31st on Lap 57.

The caution was displayed for the seventh time on the restart lap, but Koch was able to gain several positions, putting him 23rd when the field returned to green on Lap 61. Koch continued to fight for position, advancing to the 16th position by the eighth caution flag on Lap 64.

Soon after the restart with eight laps remaining in the race, Koch had to maneuver through the grass to avoid a wreck in front of him. The field was eventually red flagged for the second time. When the race returned to caution, Koch was able to remove some of the grass from his grille by tucking under another car’s bumper. He restarted 13th with five laps remaining at Mid-Ohio.

Koch continued to pick off cars in the closing laps of the race, making bold moves to gain track position. After an eventful day, Koch eventually crossed the finish line 11th at the end of the Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Koch improved his track-best start by 10 positions and his track-best finish by one position today at Mid-Ohio. He earned his second stage win of the season, securing another playoff point for a total of two for the season.

Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team leave Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tied for ninth in the NXS championship standings. The team returns to racing actionFriday, August 18, 2017 at Bristol Motor Speedway.


Sam Hornish Edges Hemric For The Victory At Mid-Ohio

Sam Hornish,Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr. dominated Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge, but his victory was anything but certain until the waning laps of a caution-filled race.

Hornish, driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang, earlier had eclipsed his own qualifying record at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and edged series rookie Daniel Hemric by 1.335 seconds when the event ultimately went green for the final time with five circuits remaining in the 75-lap distance.

The victory was the fifth in the series by Hornish, whose last win came in June of 2016 at Iowa Speedway.

Hornish, who led four times for 61 laps, traded the top spot with Hemric’s No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro four times over the race’s third and final stage. He took the point for the last time on Lap 62, on a restart following the seventh caution.

Veteran Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second after Justin Allgaier and James Davison slipped off the track in Turn 3 at Lap 63, setting up a final restart battle that ended prematurely when Gaughan’s No. 62 RCR Chevrolet Camaro was forced off the track by Hornish shortly after the green flag.

“I finally got the win (at Mid-Ohio),” said Hornish, who finished second here a year ago. “We had a smart, almost flawless day but I feel bad about the 62. I didn’t want to beat him that way.”

Rookie Matt Tifft finish third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, improving his best NASCAR XFINITY Series finish from a fifth-place at Kentucky Speedway last September. Davison, an international racing star and Indianapolis 500 competitor, took fourth in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, followed by sports car veteran Andy Lally, whose No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro team posted their first top-10 finish in the series.

Twenty-four of the race’s 40 starters completed all 75 laps. Five drivers, Hornish, Hemric, Blake Koch, Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler, traded the lead nine times.

NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Sadler spotted the field an early spin and a green flag pit stop to change a flat tire, but he ultimately took sixth, ahead of Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong.

Koch won the race’s first stage when Hornish elected to pit with three laps left and leader Sadler was spun in Turn 1 by Poole.

Hornish quickly went back to the front of the field after Stage 1 pit stops, claiming Stage 2 over Hemric and Davison.

Saturday’s race left the playoff picture unchanged with no bubble drivers able to bump their way into the standings. Sadler holds an 81-point lead over William Byron, who appeared headed for a top 10 until being caught up in a late accident relegating him to a 25th-place finish.

Check out the unofficial results of the Mid-Ohio Challenge.


Blake Koch Is Hoping For A Dry Race Weekend At Mid-Ohio

Blake Koch

Blake Koch at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course… Blake Koch has four previous starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He earned a track-best start (13th) and finish (12th) in this race last year. Last year’s event saw periods of heavy rain followed by dry conditions, then eventually another period of heavy rain at the end of the race. While other cars struggled to stay on-track, Koch was able to glide his way to a track-best finish of 12th in the Mid-Ohio Challenge.

LeafFilter Gutter Protection’s Home Track…LeafFilter Gutter Protection, founded and owned by Kaulig Racing team owner Matt Kaulig, is headquartered in Hudson, Ohio, just 80 miles from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Kaulig originally moved to Northeast Ohio to attend the University of Akron, where he was a standout quarterback for the Zips. He remains heavily involved in the Akron Zips community as he provides aid for the school’s football programs and lends a helping-hand in sponsoring events.

Sounding Off – Blake Koch… “I did not enjoy racing in the rain last year, but we were really fast when the track was dry. It was just about survival when the rain came. I would say the hardest turn at Mid-Ohio is Turn 4 because you carry a lot of speed and it’s easy to wheel hop. You can also gain a lot of speed in that turn, so it’s important to really master your line each time. I’m excited to get back to LeafFilter Gutter Protection’s home track and hope it stays dry!”

2017 Season… Koch is currently 10th in the NXS Championship standings after 20 races. He has recorded one pole position, five top-10 starts, two top-10 finishes and eight top-15 finishes. The Kaulig Racing driver has led 29 laps so far in 2017. Last week at Watkins Glen International, Koch tied his track-best start of 14th and earned stage points in the first two stages of the event, finishing 10th and seventh, respectively. Koch ultimately finished 22nd when contact with a lapped car left him mired back in traffic with no opportunity to make up ground.


Blake Koch NXS Career… Koch makes his 201st NXS start this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. To date, Koch has a career-best NXS starting position of first at Talladega Superspeedway (May 2017), and a career-best NXS finish of eighth at RIR (April 2016), Bristol Motor Speedway (August 2016), Phoenix International Raceway (November 2016) and Iowa Speedway (July 2017).Tune-In… The 75-lap Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be televised live Saturday, August 12th, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and will be broadcasted live on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90.

Keeping up with Kaulig Racing… To receive up-to-date information on the No. 11 NXS team, follow @KauligRacing on Twitter as well as on the Kaulig Racing™ Facebook page,, and the team’s website,


Regan Smith Gets Into The JGR NXS No. 18 At Mid-Ohio

Regan Smith

NASCAR’s “summer swing,” the unofficial title for the stretch of races running from Memorial Day to Labor Day across the schedules of NASCAR’s top-three touring series, is a daunting segment of the nearly 10-month-long season and can be the difference maker for teams hoping to be a championship contender come playoff time.

Aside from the toll of crisscrossing the continental United States for events, it also happens to the hottest part of the season, with select race venues seeing record temperatures. The summer months can be taxing on both man and machine. Caring for the latter is one of the ways that Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) founding partner Interstate Batteries leverages its NASCAR program, through reminding consumers to have their batteries checked prior to any summer road trips.

Driver Regan Smith will help deliver that message – and perhaps a little more – during this weekend’s Mid-Ohio Challenge NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, where he will pilot the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for JGR.

A six-time winner in XFINITY Series competition, Smith goes into this weekend’s race a former winner at the 2.258-mile road course, having scored the victory during the track’s 2015 event.Saturday’s 75-lap race will be Smith’s fourth career start at Mid-Ohio. In addition to the 2015 win, Smith scored a runner-up finish in 2014, so he has one win and two top-five finishes. He’s completed 259 of the 259 laps run in his three starts for a perfect lap-completion record, and he has an average starting position of seventh and an average finishing position of sixth.

As impressive as Smith’s record at Mid-Ohio has been, so too has been his overall efforts in the series. In addition to six wins, Smith has a total of 30 top-fives and 79 top-10 finishes. From 2013 to 2015 – the last three seasons in which Smith competed in the series on a full-time basis – he finished the season ranked among the top-four in the championship point standings, including a career-best second place in 2014.

While he is a series veteran, it will still be a weekend of firsts for the Cato, New York, native. In addition to the race being his first start of the season in the XFINITY Series, it will also be his first time racing for JGR and being an ambassador for the Interstate Batteries brand.

Interstate Batteries has been powering the championship-winning organization for more than 25 years and is the “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing.” The iconic brand is in the midst of celebrating its 65th anniversary and has featured special branding on each of the paint schemes to reflect the milestone during its 2017 campaign.

Given JGR’s record in XFINITY Series competition and his affinity for the track, Smith has high hopes of being more than just a “messenger” by adding another check in the win column at Mid-Ohio.

REGAN SMITH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What challenges does Mid-Ohio present?

“Mid-Ohio is tough. It’s an extremely tight and technical road course that penalizes even the smallest mistake. It has less runoff room than a lot of the road courses we race at, which means you can end your day in a hurry. It’s one of my favorite tracks we visit.”


You had an exciting win there in 2015. What do you remember about that race?

“Yeah, the 2015 race there was fun. We had good speed the whole weekend and we were very similar in pace to the 22 car (Alex Tagliani). The last run of the race he was just slightly quicker than us, but he made just enough mistakes to where I was able to close in on him enough and make a move in the final corner. That was definitely one of the more exciting wins I’ve had, for sure.”


You have been competing in the XFINITY Series in some capacity since 2002, but this is your first time racing for JGR. Given their success in the XFINITY Series how much confidence does that give you going into the race weekend?

“Yes, this is my first race for JGR. My confidence is sky high going into Mid-Ohio. I know how fast the JGR equipment is, and I know what I’m capable of on that track. In my mind, there’s only one result that’s acceptable next weekend.”


Interstate Batteries is the founding partner for JGR. What does it mean to race with those colors, and do you have any memories of seeing the Interstate car on the track?

“Interstate Batteries has been around for as long as I can remember. I think when you have that kind of longevity in this sport the importance of it really speaks for itself. It’s great to be able to be a part of it. I think the biggest thing I remember about the Interstate Batteries car is one almost everyone talks about, and it’s the 1993 Daytona 500. I was in the stands watching that race – 9 years old at the time – and have so many images imprinted in my brain from it.”

Meet the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Joe Gibbs Racing Team
Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry


At-Track PR Contact: Penny Copen Fender with True Speed Communication

704.875.3388 ext. 810 or

Road Crew Members:

Driver: Regan Smith


Crew Chief: Eric Phillips


Car Chief: Chris Meyers


Engine Builder: Mark Cronquist


Engine Tuner: Roger Purcell


Tire Specialist: John Lanham


Engineer: Chris Whitenight


Engineer: Dustin Zacharyasz


Mechanic: John Egbert


Mechanic: Tyler Paxton


Truck Driver: Steve Fielder


Spotters: Mark Green, J Gotelaer, Jon Kerley, Steve Nivison

Pit Crew Members:

Front Tire Changer: Houston Stamper


Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris


Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell


Rear Tire Changer: Kip Wolfmeir


Rear Tire Carrier: Joe Crossen


Jack Man: Bailey Walker



Regan Smith Highlights at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course:
● Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be Smith’s fourth start in NASCAR XFINITY Series competition at the 2.4-mile road course.

● In three previous XFINITY Series starts at Mid-Ohio, Smith’s best result is the victory he scored during the track’s event in 2015. He also earned a runner-up finish at Mid-Ohio in 2014.

● Smith has completed 259 of the 259 laps run at Mid-Ohio in the three starts he’s made at the track for a perfect lap completion record. He has an average starting position of seventh, averages a finishing position of sixth and has led a total of 19 laps.