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Trucks

Tyler Ankrum Hopeful of Finding Funding to Make Championship Run

When Tyler Ankrum climbed out of the truck in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway, the first words out of his mouth were simple – “Hopefully it means a sponsor.” After all, if he is able to make a run for the title, it’ll mean overcoming adversity.

He missed the first three races due to not being 18-years-old yet, but was granted a waiver from the sanctioning body. Then once he was able to compete, he had to start and park on two occasions with NEMCO Motorsports due to a lack of funding.

His efforts seem to be paying off, though, as evident by earning the victory last weekend. Now Ankrum is one of the drivers locked into the post-season to battle for the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Championship – if everything comes together as they hope.

“This day and time, sponsorship is hard to come by,” David Gilliland commented. “Obviously we’re going to work hard, as hard as we can. Wins help everything. We’ll dig our heels in and see what we can do to make that happen. We’ve run up until now and we’re going to do everything we can to go out and try to win a championship. That’s been our ultimate goal and we finished 1, 2 in the K&N Series last year, so we can win championships. We’re not going to stop until we go for it again. We’ll see what we can do.”

For now, all Ankrum can keep doing is performing behind the wheel to hopefully open the door of opportunity. That’s why moving forward, he is going to focus on learning how to be a better driver. 

“There’s no such thing as perfection in this sport,” he commented. “You can chase perfection and you can be the closest to perfection, but it’s kind of like chasing a pot of gold under the rainbow. You’ll never find it, but you can definitely be the closest to it. Going forward, I’m really looking for consistency. I feel like I need to run better in the stages. I feel like I need to get better at restarts. Most definitely I need to get better at restarts. Still overwhelmed by what these guys have done and what these Tundras bring.

“I think the preparation we’ll have going forward – like we were so prepared for this race and all the races in the past, we brought it all together tonight. Granted, in a way we did get lucky with fuel and (Brett) Moffitt was a lap short, but in my mind a win is still a win and we led laps. We were able to hold off the 99 (Ben Rhodes) for what seemed like forever. I was fighting against the 99 for the longest time. Going forward, I’m going to be looking for consistency and just performing better.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

Ankrum’s Perfection at Kentucky Leads Him to Victory

Tyler Ankrum made his eighth start with DGR-Crosley Racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Kentucky Speedway capturing his first career win.

The 18-year-old became a first-time winner, now hopeful to take the next step towards making a name for himself in NASCAR.  

The victory comes after missing the first three races of the season and the Buckle Up Your Truck 225 being only his twelfth start in the Truck Series. 

The California native began his early career running quarter midgets where he eventually moved up to late models. Ankrum had a breakout year last season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, capturing four victories, the Sunoco Rookie of the year and most importantly, the championship.

After winning at popular tracks like South Boston Speedway and Iowa Speedway, now Ankrum can add Kentucky to his list. It also adds to his season totals as he entered this weekend with a top-five and three top-10 finishes. His best result prior to visiting victory lane was third and came at Texas Motor Speedway which is a 1.5-mile track like Kentucky Speedway.

Prior to the weekend, Ankrum and the DGR-Crosley team were hopeful that a clean weekend may ultimately lead them to a victory.

“I’m excited about Kentucky,” Ankrum said. “I think we’ve been getting more competitive every week and I believe what we have been working on with our Tundra’s will catalyze this weekend. I have high hopes and I think we can win.”

The 18-year-old led a career high of 40 laps and took the lead with less than five laps to go as Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel. Now Ankrum is locked into the post-season.

“Hopefully it means a sponsor – holy cow!” Ankrum said in victory lane. “I cannot believe I just did this.Man, it’s going to take a lot of work. Honestly, one of my biggest faults is I’ve always doubted myself. I kind of feel like all that has washed away. I can’t thank David Gilliland and DGR-Crosley enough.”

He has experience also in crew chief Kevin Manion, who was on top of the pit box for Ankrum; the veteran captured his first win in the Truck Series since 2017.

Momentum coming into the weekend paid off for the young driver. As good as Ankrum has been in the 1.5 mile tracks this season, it was not a surprise that he performed so well in Thursday night’s Buckle Up 225.

With the playoffs inching closer, it’s going to be interesting to see if Ankrum can find funding to allow him to compete for a championship.

EMAIL BRANDON AT: brandon.rivero@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MrBrandonRivero

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News

Tyler Ankrum grabs Playoff spot with maiden Truck Series win

In a week that started with Justin Haley’s remarkable upset win at Daytona on Sunday, 18-year-old Tyler Ankrum added another on Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway—and simultaneously threw a wrench into the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff standings.

Driving the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota, Ankrum inherited the lead in the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at the 1.5-mile track when Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap. Ankrum crossed the finish line 7.373 seconds ahead of runner-up Stewart Friesen, who started last in a backup truck after NASCAR confiscated his primary No. 52 Chevrolet because of an issue with the rear firewall.

“I was driving my butt off—holy cow,” said Ankrum, who led a race-high 40 laps in three stints out front to earn his first victory in the series. “I think I was holding my breath for the last three laps there. Holy cow, that was awesome… I just don’t know what to say. I cannot believe I just did this…

“Honestly, one of my biggest faults is I’ve always doubted myself, and I kind of saw all of that wash away.”

Having turned 18 on Mar. 6, Ankrum has a Playoff eligibility waiver from NASCAR and grabbed a spot in the postseason on a night that proved disastrous for Playoff hopefuls Ben Rhodes, the defending race winner, and Todd Gilliland.

Rhodes hit the outside wall on Lap 127 of 150 and pitted with a flat left rear tire eight laps later. He finished 19th, nine laps down. Gilliland had engine issues and ran 17th, five laps down. He and Rhodes ended the night outside the Playoff grid, perilously close to must-win situations in the next three races.

Sheldon Creed started beside Grant Enfinger, the pole winner, and grabbed the lead going into Turn 1. From that point Stage 1 was no contest, with Creed pulling out to a lead of more than two seconds over Enfinger and more than nine seconds over third-place Ross Chastain.

Creed won the stage wire-to-wire, with Enfinger running second—the 15th consecutive stage in which the driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Ford has finished fourth or better.

That streak ended abruptly and ignominiously with five laps left in Stage 2. Enfinger was chasing leader Brandon Jones, who had driven forward from his 27th starting position after a restart on Lap 65. Enfinger steered to the inside and drove hard into Turn 3 to pull alongside Jones’ Toyota.

But Enfinger didn’t have enough momentum to complete the pass. His Ford slid up the track and carried Jones’ Toyota into the fence, eliminating both trucks from the race.

“It’s all on me,” Enfinger said after exiting the infield care center. “I lost my air and wrecked it, trying to make something happen.”

After the incident, Matt Crafton won the stage under caution. Where the first stage ran green from start to finish, Stage 2 was peppered with four yellows that reduced the number of contenders for the win.

Creed had pitted before the end of the second stage and didn’t lead a lap thereafter. After a litany of troubles in the late going, he finished 21st in a race that saw only seven trucks on the lead lap at the end.

Harrison Burton ran third and is currently one position out of the Playoffs, ahead of Rhodes and Gilliland, respectively. Ross Chastain ran fourth, followed by Dylan Lupton, who joined DGR-Crosley teammate Ankrum in the top five.

Moffitt pitted for fuel only 10 laps after Ankrum came to pit road in the final stage, but after a one-can stop, Moffitt’s crew chief, Jerry Baxter, calculated his driver was two laps short and instructed him to save. Moffitt slowed his paced but couldn’t save enough.

“I was just backing it up as much as I could,” Moffitt said. “We were just a lap short. It’s tough. We had a good-sized lead. I’ve never run great here, so it was fun to get up front and dice it out, and Jerry called a great race.”

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Trucks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Tyler Ankrum

After winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship last year, Tyler Ankrum is taking the next step of his racing career in competing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series. In his second start of the season at Texas Motor Speedway, he consistently ran up front en route to a sixth-place finish.

The DGR-Crosley driver recently spoke to POPULAR SPEED about his success in the lone star state, as well as his outlook moving forward.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts looking back on Texas?

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

TYLER ANKRUM: Looking back, there’s obviously things to improve on. With it being my first race, there’s a ton that I learned. I appreciated with the trucks and how they handled. Looking back, I wish I could’ve done a few things differently, but I think with the current trucks we have and with it being my first year, I think we’ll have a really strong year. I don’t know what to expect, honestly. A lot of people have asked if I should be expecting more from finishing sixth at Texas, but I’m not too sure.

I love Dover. I raced there last year in the K&N car. We had a really good run for us until we had some issues on pit road. We had a really good K&N car last yearn and a good truck last year, so I don’t know. I just think we’re going to have to see when we get there. We’ll have some simulator time, and then we’ll just swing for the fences like we did in Texas.

PS: Being that Texas was your first intermediate truck race, what surprised you the most?

TYLER: For me, it was just the air. The first five laps of the race I struggled a little bit because I was just so taken away of how aggressive the air is, and how much it affects the truck. We tried to get behind some trucks in practice at Texas, but it just seemed no one wanted to be around each other like they did at Vegas or Atlanta. It just kind of seemed like everyone was trying to figure out their own package before qualifying and the race.

That, and how aggressive everyone drove – or how assertive how everyone drove. There were a few really aggressive drivers out there who would not get off your door. They would just drive on your door every corner, and you get pissed off around them as it’s not that respectful. There’s this gentleman’s code amongst drivers if it is 10 to go, I understand why you got down on my door and got me loose, or got me sideways. But when it’s Lap 15 or 50 or even 100, when there’s still a good distance to go, it gets frustrating.

NKP

There’s a lot of respectful drivers out there, but I just couldn’t believe what you could do to manipulate someone else’s truck without even touching them. You get a foot on either corner of the truck, and you can affect them somehow. You almost have out to outthink them. On the short tracks, you can outdrive them, but looking up front, you’re just manipulating the air and you mirror drive a lot. Even at Texas, you’re mirror driving a lot; you block and you get drafts off other trucks, and it’s a whole different style of racing than I’m used to.

PS: You mentioned your excitement about Dover. What’s the most challenging aspect when it comes to the Monster Mile?

TYLER: Well, I think the most challenging aspect with Dover is really is it’s almost like Bristol. Every change you make, it’s super small and you really feel it. Essentially, it’s Bristol – just a half mile bigger and with concrete tracks like that having extra grip, it’s almost harder to find extra speed in the truck. So I think that’ll be the toughest thing. But I’ve been there before. I think Winchester Speedway is a lot scarier than Dover, so I don’t think I’ll have any issues getting up to speed. But the level of competition there is going to be very hard.

PS: Being your first truck series season, what are your goals and expectations for this year?

TYLER: I mean, I would love to get a win. My main goal is to make the playoffs. I would love to make the playoffs and win Rookie of the Year. I know I’m pretty far behind when it comes to Rookie of The Year points, but I think it’s something we can do, considering how well we ran. There are guys that already have three or four races under their belts, and in my first two truck starts, I think I’m third in points. So based on points accumulated so far, I’m pretty proud of the guys and what we’ve done. I think we have a legitimate shot at doing so, and that’s the main thing.

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

It’d also be a dream come true if I could make the final four at Homestead. I think if we did that, it’d really help boost my career in finding sponsorship.

PS: So beyond Dover, what track on the schedule are you most excited for?

TYLER: That’s a tough one, because there’s so many cool tracks. I already checked off one track on my bucket list – that was Texas. Other tracks that I’ve been wanting to check off, we don’t go to. We don’t go back to Daytona, we don’t go back to Atlanta, and those are my two most favorite tracks. I’m really excited for Bristol. I’ve been there quite a bit in the super late model and the K&N car; I’m really excited about going there.

My number one most excited towards for the rest of the year is Miami. Miami is such a cool track. it’s always been fun super fun in the NASCAR Heat video games and it’s always super fun on Iracing, so we’ll see. We have a long season ahead of us, a lot of work cut out for us, and I’m up for the challenge.

PS: So in talking about the schedule, what track do you wish was on the schedule?

TYLER: I wish we had Richmond on the schedule. I already heard that it is going to be on the schedule next year. I’ve always loved Richmond, watching it at least. I think it’d be cool.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

PS: Actually, that has been confirmed with the 2020 schedule.

TYLER: That’s cool. I think that’ll be one cool track to add, and I think trucks going back to Watkin’s Glen would be really cool, too. I loved Watkin’s Glen in the K&N car and I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Canadian track (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), watching at least. So I think the trucks would be super cool at Watkin’s Glen – especially watching them going down the backstretch. There’s a lot of options that NASCAR could do to mix up the schedule for the trucks. It seems the trucks have had the same schedule for five or six years now.

I think it’d be also cool if NASCAR had an all-star, or wild card race for the truck series. I know they have those bonus races, but almost like a PGA or US Open like they do in golf with the biggest race of the year at a different track each season. But you know, I definitely won’t complain about what NASCAR has as they’ve done a fantastic job with the cards they’ve been dealt over the past however years. I love the truck series. They’re a lot of fun, and even more fun to watch. So I’m excited to race some more, and get to Dover, Kansas, and Charlotte in May.

PS: We’ve seen drivers trying lots of different series and cars. What is on your bucket list?

TYLER: There really isn’t. One day I may want to get back in the midget, kind of go back to my roots. But my heart has always been with NASCAR. I don’t think it’d hurt to race in IndyCar once or twice as that’d be a ton of fun, too. But my heart has always been with NASCAR, and I’ve always wanted to do stuff with them.

I’ve always wanted to be passing Jimmie Johnson down the backstretch for the Daytona 500. So I think I’m going to stick with what I’m doing.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Rookie Outlook: Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Since 2010, five of the nine drivers that have won the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year have gone on to secure full-time rides in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The most recent of which being William Byron, who now drives the famed No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports.

With that being said, the award clearly introduces fans to drivers that will likely be on the rise in the next couple of years. In 2019, the series will once again have quite the class.

Harrison Burton

The most recognizable name on the list, and arguably the favorite for not only the Rookie of the Years honors, but the championship as well.

The son of Jeff Burton will be making his first full-time effort with Kyle Busch Motorsports after making 15 starts with the team over the last three years. He will be competing in the No. 18, replacing 2018 series runner-up, Noah Gragson.

The expectations will be high for the 18-year-old and, it will be interesting to see if he can carry his previous success in the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N East Series into a series where he does have experience.

In 15 starts (all coming with KBM), Burton has posted four top-five’s and seven top-10’s, with his best finish of third coming at Iowa and Phoenix last year.

Sheldon Creed

Someone who may be overlooked heading into Daytona, but it may not stay that way for long.

Creed has proven himself a capable competitor in the past, winning four races in the ARCA Series a year ago in route to a championship. The 21-year-old will align himself with GMS Racing and will drive the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Like Burton, he has had opportunities in the series before, making seven starts with a top-five and two top-10’s to show for it.

Gus Dean

Another ARCA winner makes the move up, as Dean joins Young’s Motorsports to drive the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Unlike Burton and Creed though, he has zero starts in a truck; so this year may serve as a learning curve for the 24-year-old.

Tyler Ankrum

After winning four races and a championship in the K&N East Series, Ankrum looks to continue his winning ways as he continues to climb the NASCAR ladder driving the No. 17 Toyota for DGR-Crosley.

The 17-year-old will have his work cut for him early though, as his season will not start until March 23rd at Martinsville Speedway, after which he will be 18 and face no age restrictions. In the process, Ankrum will miss three races, which was enough to keep Todd Gilliland from winning the Rookie of the Year last year.

Part-Timers

Ankrum won’t be the only rookie getting a ride from DGR this season as both Natalie Decker and Anthony Alfredo will share the No. 54 Toyota.

Decker made headlines last year in ARCA, where she was able to win the pole at Daytona International Speedway and score nine top-10’s throughout the season.

Alfredo comes from a season in the K&N East Series where he won one race and finished fifth in the points standings.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Home Tracks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Tyler Ankrum

With just two races to go in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series season, Tyler Ankrum holds a 51-point advantage over his teammate Tyler Dippel.

Recently, the DGR-Crosley driver dished on the next race of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as more for POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into the race at New Hampshire?

TYLER ANKRUM: We won there once already this year, and to get the sweep, that’d be fantastic to know that we were the first to get the sweep at New Hampshire. So to get a second win, fifth win of the year at the Magic Mile, would be huge. We’re leading the points so obviously we’re thinking about the championship. You can still lose the championship with two races to go, but I’m super confident going into Loudon.

PS: How would you rate your season so far?

ANKRUM: I don’t know. With 1 being the worse and 10 being the best, I’d have to say 10 because I never expected to get this amount of wins that we’ve gotten this year and performed the way we have. I don’t think anyone else has performed as we have. I would say 10/10. I haven’t won as much as I’ve won this year in a long time so I’m having a lot of fun with it right now.

PS: What’s been the secret to the success this year?

BARRY CANTRELL | NKP

ANKRUM: I just think the biggest secret of the team being so successful is everyone does their part, works really hard, and gives 100% percent. All the guys work tirelessly at the shop, and I do my thing with school, and the gym, and watching film and being IRacing before races. I think our main nitch is nobody works harder than us, and I think that’s been the whole secret to our success this year.

PS: How did you get your start in racing?

ANKRUM: I grew up in California and when I was nine years old, I go started off in quarter midgets and raced those for about three or four years. Then from midgets, I got into a late model.

PS: What’s been the most memorable moment of your career to date so far?

ANKRUM: I think the most memorable moment I’ve had would’ve been the win at Loudon – no, I take that back. The most memorable moment this year would be the win at Compton. We were so good that weekend. We got the pole, got disqualified after qualifying for being out of tolerances on the rear skew. So started at the back, drove my way to the front, made a mistake on a restart, fell back to fifth, and then drove my way back to the front again to win.

That win right there was one of most memorable because that night, no one was going to deny us. That night, we were destined to win, and it just got that ball rolling for those three wins in a row. Really, I think this year has been just special to me because in the past few years in super late models, we haven’t had dominant races like that. But that night, everyone knew because I was flying through the field.

PS: Now racing at the NASCAR Home Tracks level, what would mean to you to race in one of the premiere divisions?

ANKRUM: Oh man. To race in Truck, XFINITY or Cup, I’d give anything to be like those guys. It’s been my dream to become a Cup driver since I started racing so I’d give anything to be one of them.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

ANKRUM: I had a lot of heroes in general. One of my heroes is Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart. Probably my biggest is Ayrton Senna, the Formula 1 driver for the 1970s and 1980s. Obviously, that’s a driver from the past but I love history and I’ve read a lot of books on him, watched a lot of TV documentaries. He just seems like the perfect driver, and always tries to be one of those guys whose perfect behind the wheel.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.