Tyler Dippel played the tire strategy correctly in the Visit Hampton 175 for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway on Saturday.
Hailing from Wallkill, N.Y., the 18-year-old took the checkers after conserving tires throughout the 150-lap feature and outlasting MDM Motorsports hotshoe Anthony Alfredo and teammate Tyler Ankrum in the closing stages.
“We were playing on conserve mode the whole night,” Dippel expressed to Speed51.com. “This place really eats up tires. We fell back to almost getting lapped at one point. But, we stuck to the game plan and it worked out for us. I had way better tires than anyone else out there.”
Leading the final 10 circuits, the win also marked Dippel’s second in K&N Pro Series East competition (his first came at Mobile International Speedway in 2016).
“It means so much to me to get back to the winners circle,” Dippel continued. “It feels like it has been so long. I’m pumped up about this.”
Competing in his mere third K&N Pro Series East event, Alfredo dominated after the mid-race caution period but was relegated to a runner-up result in his No. 40 Ceco Building Systems Toyota following an intense three-car battle with Dippel and Ankrum in the final laps.
“We had a really strong racecar,” Alfredo said. “That No. 54 car was just so strong all weekend. We were out front early, but we were still saving. I know they fell back a lot more than us, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing the issue at all.”
“I think if it wasn’t for lapped traffic or that caution, we might have won this thing.”
Ankrum, who entered the event third in the points standings, rallied after a late-race spin to close the podium at the Hampton, Va. track in his No. 17 Modern Meat Company Toyota.
“Tires were definitely the large issue,” Ankrum told Speed51.com. “I was about quarter throttle for most of the race. It wasn’t until the end that I really started running hard. Lagging back and saving made it really, really easy to come up through the field at the end.”
Dillon Bassett and Canadian hotshoe Grant Quinlan rounded out the top five positions.
Dippel, who transitioned from Rette-Jones Racing to DGR-Crosley this past week, earned the pole award for the event at the .396-mile circuit following a track record lap time in his No. 54 TyCar Trenchless Technologies machine.
During the beginning stages, Brazilian standout Marcos Gomes took the lead over from Alfredo while Dippel and Ankrum dropped to the back of the field in an effort to conserve tires.
Prior to the midpoint break, Gomes paced the field consistently in his No. 55 Hasselbach machine and maintained a few second advantage over Alfredo.
Following the competition caution, Alfredo powered to the lead on the restart and held the top spot until Lap 93 when Salvatore Iovino looped around on the backstretch, drawing the second pause in action.
On the ensuing start, Alfredo maintained the lead while Ankrum and Dippel muscled into the top five.
From there, it became a three-car duel between the three teenagers — Alfredo, Ankrum and Dippel — for the checkers.
Trading the top spots throughout the final 20 laps, contact between Alfredo and Ankrum led to Ankrum spinning around and forcing the final caution.
“I might’ve jacked him up a little bit into the corner,” Ankrum said. “And I paid the price. It sent me for a little ride. That’s all apart of short track racing, however.”
With just a few laps remaining, the former NASCAR Next member Dippel remained poised and claimed the checkered flag, delivering DGR-Crosley their third straight win in K&N Pro Series East competition.
“Man, I cannot thank this team enough,” Dippel added. “These guys are all-stars. I can’t wait for the rest of the season now.”
Colin Garrett, Connor Hall, Chase Cabre, Ryan Vargas and Ruben Garcia, Jr. rounded out the top 10 positions.
Moving forward, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East now prepares for the second annual Who’s Your Driver Twin 100s at South Boston Speedway on May 12th, which is expected to draw a large car count due to the twin race platform.
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage, click here.
-By Marshall Gabell, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com