It wasn’t easy, but Tyler Ankrum outdueled some of the best Late Model Stock Car drivers in the area Saturday night to win the Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway. This marks the fourteen year old driver’s first win of the year and to hold off the likes of Jake Crum in one of the area’s biggest LMSC races of the year is pretty special.
“I’m just really happy for this crew, we haven’t won all year and we really needed this win,” Tyler Ankrum told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’ve gone on six weeks now when we’ve has really strong finishes and I’m really proud of this team and what we’ve been doing all year, so it’s a huge accomplishment for us and looking forward to going into the next one.”
It was Shane Lee who would take the early lead in the 200-lap event at Hickory Motor Speedway and hold the top spot until a caution on lap 70. On the restart, Jake Crum used the outside lane to get the top spot and Chad Finchum followed through into second. Just two laps later Finchum made the move around Crum to take the lead.
Shane Lee and Tyler Ankrum also got into the mix at the front; Lee took the lead on lap 80 and Ankrum moved into second. Three laps later the engine expired on the #19 machine of Finchum, ending his night and bringing out the red flag for clean-up. During that caution Josh Berry also came down pit road, he had problems earlier, and his night came to an end with a mechanical failure.
Lee retook the lead on the restart, but Ankrum battled hard. The two raced side by side leading up to the competition caution at lap 100. Drivers came down pit road and were able to take two tires and fuel during the halfway break.
Ankrum grabbed the lead on the restart, while the drivers behind him jockeyed for position lap after lap. Lee, Crum, Austin McDaniel, Kate Dallenbach and Charlie Watson put on a show, trading positions nearly every lap and never letting Ankrum too far out of their sight.
Crum claimed the second spot for good on lap 143 and was able to remain within three car lengths of Ankrum. Crum closed in on Ankrum a few times, getting all the way to his back bumper, but the #58 machine was strong on Saturday and Ankrum held off the charges to lead the final 100 laps and take the checkers in the Fall Brawl.
“It was really intimidating seeing him back there,” said Ankrum. “He was the winner back at the Fall Brawl when I finished second and I had a really fun time at that race and I took a lot from it and I learned a lot, so it was just a matter of putting it to this race. Beating a guy like Jake Crum or Josh bBerry is huge. I was jumping up and down, well shaking back and forth couldn’t really go nowhere, but it was awesome to be racing with those guys.”
Ankrum and other drivers return to Hickory Motor Speedway this weekend for the CARS Racing Tour 150-lap event. Ankrum, who has been a mainstay on the CARS Racing Tour circuit this year and sits fifth in points, looks for back to back wins at ‘the birthplace of NASCAR starts’.
“This is all it’s about,” said Ankrum, “It’s about learning and we actually took quite a bit from this race and winning and we want to be able to put it into next weekend. It’s going to be a fun time and we’re gonna go get ‘em.”
-Jana Wimmer, Speed51 Midwest Editor, Twitter: @JWimm22