Tyler Ankrum, a 16-year old California native, is making the 2,500-mile journey back to his home state of California to stake his claim in the third annual Winter Showdown 250 at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
“I’m really excited about racing in my home state. I grew up in Colton, CA so about two hours south of Bakersfield right next to California Speedway, so pretty close by,” Ankrum told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I haven’t raced in my home state in a long time and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to, coming back and racing in Southern California.”
This will be Ankrum’s first attempt at the Winter Showdown, as well as his first trip to Kern County Raceway Park which opened in 2013.
Ankrum boasts an impressive Late Model resume including a Fall Brawl win at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) and a top-five finish in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. Last season, Ankrum ran full-time in Super Late Models in his No. 58 Ion Camera Chevrolet.
Ankrum got his start in racing in Colton, California where he competed in Quarter Midgets at Orange Show Speedway before making the move to the East Coast in 2013. At 13-years old Ankrum made the move up to full-bodied stock cars.
“It’s been a big transition moving to North Carolina and we’ve sacrificed a lot to leave family in California to pursue racing in the South,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest races of my career so far and to compete in front of friends and family is something that’s really important to me.”
Ankrum starting his 2017 season with another first is nothing new to the rookie driver. Last season he finished sixth in his first start in the All American 400 and fell short of making the Snowball Derby as he finished 10th in his last chance qualifier at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
“I think we’ll stack up really well against the competition (at the Winter Showdown). I think our team has improved by leaps and bounds and we as a group feel like we can compete at the front of the field on a regular basis now, inch us closer to wins and put ourselves in a position to win at the end”
The track was open to a test day earlier this weeks where teams were invited to get track time before the big race. Though feeling extremely under-the-weather, Ankrum made the early trip to the West Coast to get some seat time and spend time with family.
“Our test went well, we felt like as a first-year race team going to the Winter Showdown and as a driver that has never competed at Kern County before, we needed more time on the track to get a baseline for when the race practices begin,” said Ankrum. “We adapted pretty quickly to the track and surface and speed so I feel like we’ll be able to compete as soon as we unload.”
The Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park kicks off February 8. For those wanting to keep up with Tyler and his return to his home state, the race is available via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com.
Click here to purchase a live video ticket today.
-Story by: Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Tyler Ankrum Racing