By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Sticker tires was the key ingredient for sophomore NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series racer Tyler Ankrum, who scored a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Baptist Health 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Ankrum’s GMS Racing teammates had their nights altered due to crashes, specifically on Lap 21 when Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith were involved in a multi-truck crash in Turn 4. Elliott recovered, but Ankrum remained scot free throughout the 134-lap race.
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Problem was that Ankrum flat out struggled all night, floundering around the top-15 all night without any sign of a strong result. That would all change when the final two cautions came out.
The first being brought out by Korbin Forrister, but the chaos escalated by Ankrum’s teammate Sheldon Creed when he hit the sand barriers at pit entry, halting the race for 15 minutes and 58 seconds.
Sheldon Creed slams into the barriers on his entry to pit road pic.twitter.com/y0VdvTl6BY
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Ankrum said the red flag period was the turning point of the race, but also finding luck on his side as its been nothing but shortcomings all season.
“We were able to talk about the setup a little bit and what we needed to improve for this next coming restart. We all came to pit road and got our laps back,” said Ankrum.
Ankrum’s No. 26 May’s Hawaii Chevrolet Silverado crew got another shot of making more adjustments once Jordan Anderson crashed in Turn 1 and brought out the caution with 12 laps to go.
Race leader Kyle Busch and second place Austin Hill brought the field down pit road with those guys going for scuff tires. Ankrum, his teammate Chase Elliott and Todd Gilliland were among the notable drivers going for the ideal set of sticker tires.
“We struggled with the setup all night and those last two pit stops, we hit something,” Ankrum on the adjustments. “Just threw a spring rubber in the right rear and we took off from there.”
It was a well-time restart indeed for the 19-year-old as he was able to make a charge towards the front after restarting seventh with 7 laps remaining.
Two laps later, Ankrum was already up to third and hunting Ross Chastain for the runner-up spot. He went low to battle and clear Chastain with four laps remaining. Ankrum never looked back as he crossed the line one spot behind Busch for his first top-five of 2020.
“I think it was a perfect restart on my side and perfect amount of luck,” Ankrum on the final restart. “I’m really thankful for everything that happened.”
Saturday night’s steal marked Ankrum’s first top-five since Pocono last July where he also finished second. Top-10 wise, it’s been since last October at Talladega when he finished seventh.
Despite this, Ankrum understands that tonight was from from good and hopes to build momentum going forward as he’s one point ahead of both Matt Crafton and Derek Kraus for the 10th and final playoff spot after five races.
“To be honest, we didn’t have a good run but we had a really good finish though,” said Ankrum. “We got real close with the setup at the end and I think that was really good. That’s what we needed all race long.
Unfortunately, it took us all race long to get there. We worked really hard this past week to get where we are tonight. I’m really proud of my GMS crew.”
Truck Series action will resume June 27 as they’ll make the trip to Pocono Raceway for the running of the Pocono Organics 150 with live coverage at 12:30 pm EST on FS1.