NASCAR driver Blake Koch started his 88th Nationwide Series race and his second Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway this past weekend. Being a young driver without a major sponsor has its ups and downs, and, for Koch, last weekend was mostly the latter. On Saturday, he had to park his car after three laps into the Nationwide event because of vibrations (finishing 39th), and on Sunday, he finished 37th in the Sprint Cup race.
Koch has spent the past five years climbing through the ranks of the sport, starting out as a development driver for the regional K&N West Series before making the jump to the Nationwide Series (NASCAR's equivalent to baseball's AAA minor leagues). In 2011, he finished as the runner up to Timmy Hill for the Nationwide Rookie of the Year award.
Then, in 2012, Koch found himself in the middle of a controversy when ESPN decided not to run an advertisement in which Koch urged NASCAR fans to "rise up and vote" because the ad violated the network's stance against running commercials with religious or political messages.