By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The latest batch of fresh faces in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers competing in the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway Oct. 27 will now include K&N Pro Series East champion Tyler Ankrum.
DGR-Crosley announced its 10th driver to race in the No. 54 Toyota Tundra Tuesday after the 17 year-old raced for the David Gilliland owned team in K&N East this season, where he racked up four wins and finished inside the top-10 in all but two races to score the series title.
Gilliland said Ankrum is ready to make the next step of the NASCAR ladder after being an incredible asset to his relatively new team.
“We are extremely excited to have Tyler in the truck at Martinsville,” Gilliland said. “He’s been such an important part of our team this year, and it’s been awesome to watch him progress and learn each race in the K&N Series. He’s proven that he’s ready for the next step and I’m glad that everyone at DGR-Crosley is going to be a part of his Truck Series debut.”
Ankrum won’t have to worry about meeting new faces as he’ll have several key members of his championship campaign on his side, including crew chief Seth Smith. Therefore, it made the San Bernardino, California native as excited than he already was of making his Truck Series debut at the 0.526-mile paperclip.
“Making my Truck Series debut at Martinsville is huge. So many big names in the sport have made their national series debut at Martinsville,” Ankrum said. “I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long now, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s going to be really cool having Seth and my K&N guys there with me.”
The pilot of the No. 54 May’s Hawaii machine won’t be the first time Ankrum has ran at Martinsville as he previously raced in a Late Model Stock Car’s MDCU 300 in 2014.
Having ran there before gave Ankrum an idea of the aggressive characteristics the short track has, and is ready for the challenge that lies ahead, joining both recently released DGR-Crosley driver Tyler Dippel and ARCA points leader Sheldon Creed, who’ll also make their Martinsville debuts.
“Martinsville is an aggressive track, I’ve raced there one other time in a late model. I think that little bit of experience will be an advantage and help with the transition,” Ankrum said. “I’ve already been racing on the simulator and practicing live pit stops with the 54 pit crew because this will actually be the first live pit stop for me. There’s a little bit of pressure, but I’m ready for it. I know the DGR-Crosley guys are going to bring me a fast truck, and hopefully we’ll be able to get them a solid finish.”
In 19 starts, the No. 54 Toyota has six top-10 results, with five being in the top-five led by a runner-up effort by Kyle Benjamin at their last trip in Martinsville March 26. The other drivers to bring home top results for DGR-Crosley in the team’s flagship truck were Gilliland (pair of fourths at Dover and Iowa), Zane Smith (fifth at Gateway) and Chris Eggleston (10th at Las Vegas).