Since moving from his home in San Bernardino, California to the East Coast, Tyler Ankrum has strived to put together a career in short track racing that will eventually propel him to the sport’s upper levels. Despite being a model of consistency over the last four years while competing in Late Models, wins had eluded the now 18-year-old racer. But that has all changed in 2018 since Ankrum teamed up with DGR-Crosley Racing for a run at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.
The changes began this past May, when Ankrum won his first K&N East race at South Boston Speedway (VA). He went on to capitalize on that victory by sweeping the summertime New England swing at both Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) on July 14 and New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Saturday.
“We’ve had a fantastic season so far in our rookie year,” Ankrum said after his dominating run at NHMS. “Three wins, I finished outside the top five once, and I think that’s pretty phenomenal for a rookie season in the K&N Series considering how competitive it is.”
“The guys at DGR work super hard to get to the race track and they bring the best cars week in and week out. I’m super thankful to have them,” Ankrum stated. “I’ve never seen guys work as super hard as they do, and throughout the whole race they even coach me. David Keith, Zach Smith, both of them really help during races just trying to stay calm, cool and refreshed.”
Ankrum made no bones that he is happy to be able to say he has turned his consistency into trips to victory lane after all this time.
“It’s really nice,” he said. “For the past three or four years I’ve been racing Late Models and Super Late Models, and I’ve been known as a guy that runs up front or qualifies up front. I’ve had a few really good races in the past in Super Late Models, but it seems that this year, both Super Late Models and K&N, we’ve really brought something on.
“I really feel like it’s the guys I’m working around, Blake Bainbridge and Clay Rodgers on my SLM team, they really uphold me and expect me to do more than what I expect of myself. It makes me push myself even harder.”
Despite having momentum and the points lead with just five races remaining, Ankrum is remaining vigilant for the rest of the K&N East schedule, especially with all the races being at world class racing facilities, including a return trip to Loudon in September for 125 laps of racing.
“We’re just going to have to see. The guys at DGR and I work a lot with each other. We’re going to get through Iowa, Watkins Glen, and Gateway, and then we come back here. We just got take each of these next races, stay consistent and we’ll be fine.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will head to the 7/8 mile Iowa Speedway for their next outing this Friday, July 27.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen