>> by Roman Gabriel  Sports Q&A

Nationwide Driver Blake Koch has created a major fan base in both the NASCAR community and the faith-based market over the past three years. After only three short years, Koch went full time into the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In his first 10 career NASCAR Nationwide Series races, he earned five top-25 finishes. Koch finished 18th in points and finished “Runner Up” Rookie of the year.

He has toured the nation sharing his faith and has been a keynote speaker at numerous outreach events, including Promise Keepers. Koch’s ambition is to promote the importance of God’s influence in the American family.

I had the opportunity to speak with Koch about this and more. It was a pleasure to talk to a young up-and-coming driver and strong Christian with a heart for the next generation. He is passionate about getting young adults to follow God.

Q: In talking to you I sense a great deal of appreciation for what God has done for you and the great position you are in to compete on the Nationwide NASCAR Series. What can you tell me about that?

A: I feel completely blessed to have the opportunity. I thank God for the opportunity to qualify, and run one lap on one of these tracks in front of these (NASCAR) fans, completely blessed!

Q: You were a champion motocross racer for years, and unlike so many, you started your NASCAR career very late at the age of 22. How did you decide to move out of motocross and get involved in driving cars?

A: Motocross was my life growing up. I wanted to be the best I could be as a pro motocross racer. Everything I lived for was to be the best at motocross, I lived, slept and ate it . . . of course injuries like football, as you know, are a big part of the sport.

Injuries can set you back in a physical sport like this for a while. . . . I had two ACL knee surgeries. Then when you come back and these guys you beat are faster and ahead of you, and winning races. . . . It was difficult for me overcoming the injuries. The key in the sport is staying healthy. That separates (the) good from the best in motocross.

I decided to give it up (motocross) to go to college. . . . I then had the opportunity to get in a racecar because my stepdad bought one and offered me the opportunity, and I took it; it was awesome.

Q: NASCAR is unique in that it is such a public faith and family sport. What are your thoughts on the influence of Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) on drivers and their families on the NASCAR circuit?

A: MRO is such a big influence on our personal life, our families, to the fans. We are just completely blessed to have such great support from a organization like MRO . . . pre-race meetings, driver Bible studies, family prayer, counseling, etc. available to us. You can learn more about them on the MRO website at go2mro.com, any support is greatly appreciated. …

Even if you’re not a Christian you still want that prayer to make sure someone’s watching over you going that fast and that close to the wall.

Q: You say on your website, “My ambition is to promote God back into the American family . . .” What message would you like to deliver to young people when you go in a church?

A: It’s an easy message. Put God first in your life. Pray about the decisions you make. . . . I start my day off this way: “God take control of my life, my heart, my mind and my actions. Put me in the situations that You want me in, open the doors You want open and slam the doors You want shut. That’s pretty simply said. Basically, God take control.”

As you’re well aware, there’s a battle that we all see and all go through. The more that athletes and others can get out there and be a motivational and spiritual influence and hope, the better. Giving kids hope is crucial as they are our next generation of leaders. They will be influential people, many running the country in 30 years. We need to get hold of them now. Let them know that there’s hope in God, and that they can do anything they set their mind to, especially when we put God first in our life.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Roman Gabriel III is president of Sold Out Ministries. He hosts Sold Out Sports heard Saturday nights 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio, and is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Article reprinted with permission.)