By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Tyler Ankrum becomes the latest driver announced to run the Gander Outdoors Truck Series full-time, as he’ll drive the No. 17 Toyota Tundra for DGR-Crosley.
However, much like Todd Gilliland this season, Ankrum, who will turn 18 on March 6th, will miss the first three races of the season due to age restrictions denying him running at tracks longer than a mile. Instead, he’ll make his first start of the season at Martinsville Speedway March 23. A driver that’ll run those races has yet to be determined.
Age restriction was the least of the San Bernadino, California native’s concerns, as Friday’s announcement to run on the national tour is a dream come true, and thankful to be part of a hard-working team that’s committed in what they do.
“Honestly, this is a dream come true,” said Ankrum. “It’s crazy to think that something I’ve been a fan of for so long, I’m now going to be a part of it. It’s even more special that I get to stay at DGR-Crosley and progress within their organization.
“Everyone on our team collaborates really well together, and there’s not a single person there that I don’t enjoy being around and learning from. Being surrounded by a group of people that I’m comfortable with will help in the transition and learning curve of moving up to the Truck Series.
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity, thankful to David for believing in me and especially grateful for all those that have supported me throughout my entire career.”
Ankrum’s rookie campaign in the K&N East was a huge success, capturing four wins, nine top-fives and 12 top-10 finishes, and became the sixth driver to win both Rookie of the Year honors and the championship in the same season. He did all of that while driving for DGR-Crosley, which has co-owner David Gilliland excited about the future.
“I’m really happy that Tyler is continuing his career with us at DGR-Crosley,” said Gilliland. “We started working with him when he was racing Late Model Stock cars a few years ago, and obviously he had a phenomenal season with us this year in the K&N East with four wins and a Championship. It’s really special to watch him grow and develop as a driver. Tyler has proven that he knows how to win, and we’re excited to take the next step with him.”
Ankrum made two Truck Series starts at the end of last year, competing at both Martinsville Speedway, where he finished 18th, and ISM Raceway, where he ran inside the top-five throughout the race and finished in sixth for his first career top-10 finish in his young and bright career.