While Patrick Emerling and Chuck Hossfeld have been dominating the win column, the 2016 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series has witnessed the quiet advancement of a young group of drivers about ready to make some noise.
One of those notables is Tyler Rypkema, a third-year driver in the full-blown Modifieds from the Southern Tier region of upstate New York. Still in his late teens, the second generation racer showed some signs of improvement early on, especially at the challenging 5/8-mile Oswego Speedway where all three of his top five finishes came during his first two seasons. 2016 has been an even more well-balanced effort at each of the tracks that RoC visits.
“We’ve been a lot more consistent,” Rypkema recently told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’ve finished every single lap so far this season. The whole scheme of things this year has gone a lot better in our favor.”
Prior to 2014, Rypkema graduated from Microd racing and competed alongside his sister Mikayla and father Dean in Sportsman Modifieds locally. Joining the RoC Series full time allowed the 2013 Shangri-La II Motor Speedway track champion to branch out and learn the characteristics of additional facilities.
“Up until I got in the Modified a few years ago I had only ever driven at two tracks, Shangri-La and Chemung,” Rypkema indicated. “This Modified deal is definitely helping out a great deal to travel, but on the other hand I had a great disadvantage going to all those tracks I hadn’t raced at before because I had only ever driven at a couple different tracks.
“I’m starting to get more track time on the track, getting more used to how the car reacts in different situations. All of it is coming together and you get to know what your car does in different situations and it just helps out a great deal.”
The Rypkema family team even ventured down to Florida this past February for the 50th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway turning in some respectable results against some of the east coast’s best.
Besides the Sunshine State trip, Rypkema has mainly remained in his home state focused on making small progressions during this season in which he has already exceeded his total number of top 10 finishes from the first two years combined.
“Our goal is to finish out strong and hopefully finish in the top five in points,” Rypkema, currently achieving that goal with a 40-point advantage on sixth, noted. “That would be great for us.”
After the dust settles as they look to keep the momentum together for the remainder of the season, 2017 could be the time to turn some more heads.
“I think next year is our ‘go after it’ year,” Rypkema predicted. “We’ve been competitive at multiple different tracks, and I think next year is going to be our breakout year. I think we’ll really be competitive. I just want to thank my sponsors and everyone that helps. I couldn’t do it without them.”
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Daryl Canfield Photo