In the immediate aftermath of the announcement Blake Koch would not return to the Kaulig Racing Xfinity Series team, he went on Sirius XM for an interview, did a Facebook Live chat and even personally called his biggest fans.
Then he got to work.
“That first week, I made more phone calls and sent more emails than I have in my entire life,” Koch said via phone, nearly two weeks after losing his ride to Ryan Truex. “I didn’t want to sit at home and pout or feel bad for myself, even for five seconds.”
Koch has been going through his entire contact list — everyone he’s met in a decade of racing — and reaching out. Of course, like the vast majority of drivers in his situation, he’ll need to find a sponsor to land a new ride.
That’s something he hasn’t had to do in three years, since Kaulig Racing owner Matt Kaulig’s company, LeafFilter, was also the sponsor of the team.
It’s a daunting task, as is catching up on all the little things you wouldn’t think about: Regaining control of his website (LeafFilter had controlled that) and even his Dropbox account.
“I’ve never gone through a divorce, but it almost feels like going through one,” he said with a chuckle. “There’s just a lot of stuff to deal with.”
Of course, nothing is harder than trying to find a company willing to invest in him and make him the face of their brand — even after making the Xfinity playoffs as an underdog the last two years.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Koch said of the sponsor search. “Nothing is remotely easy about it. There’s no standard way of doing it. And you have to think outside the box.
“But the good news is, it’s still doable. I’m glad it’s hard, because if it was easy, there wouldn’t be any sponsors left. You have to go get it and put in the work.”
The reality, he said, is it’s late enough in the offseason that finding something full-time for 2018 may not happen.
“But you always have the next year,” he said.
Koch is open to anything — even Global Rallycross, which he called “very appealing to me.”
Even though Koch is not in a good position at the moment, he’s determined to keep a positive attitude. He’s been through much worse in his career, like the time in 2012 when a ride fell through after he had just bought a house.
After that, he found himself doing whatever he could to pay the bills and stay in the sport: Driving Trevor Bayne’s motorhome, spotting for Michael McDowell and start-and-parking for Rick Ware and Jennifer Jo Cobb.
“What’s happened in the past has made me strong enough and tested my faith enough that when I’m put in this position, I handle it a little better,” he said.”This (Kaulig Racing) was such a great opportunity, but these things don’t last forever. Whether it was nine years or one year down the road, it was going to come to an end eventually.
“Fortunately, I have a much better resume now than I did before. I’m more motivated than ever to succeed and work and keep pushing.”