Ankrum Posts First Top-5 of 2023 on Tyler Ankrum Day
Speedway Digest Staff Sunday, Mar 26 359
Tyler Ankrum delivered his best finish of the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season with a fourth-place effort on Saturday afternoon at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). His first top-5 result of the year was due to a resilient effort to hold off Cup series regular Ross Chastain in the waning laps of the Xpel 225. The fourth-place run vaulted Ankrum up four positions in the driver championship standings to seventh and into playoff contention.
The driver of the No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro began the day by receiving a declaration from Mayor Kirk Watson who proclaimed March 25, 2023 “Tyler Ankrum Day” in Austin, Texas. Ankrum took the green flag from 12th position for the Xpel 225 on Saturday afternoon. The 22-year old maintained position inside the top-10 in the opening stage. As green flag pit stops began to unfold on lap nine, crew chief Doug Randolph kept Ankrum on track for the entirety of Stage 1, which netted the LiUNA! crew four points by finishing the stage in seventh position on lap 12.
With the change in format, there were no cautions between stages at COTA, adding to the complex strategy of road course racing. Randolph would call Ankrum to pit road for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of lap 12. Ankrum would rejoin the field in 29th position, but he wouldn't stay there for long. As the laps ticked by, Ankrum and the LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro would pick up a position or two each lap. At the conclusion of stage two, Ankrum would cycle up into the top-15.
Ankrum and Randolph took advantage of the timely caution, when Parker Kligerman came to a stop on the front stretch, to put on a fresh set of tires to gain an advantage over the field for the final 13 laps. Ankrum would leapfrog the field and restart in position number six. Ankrum would make quick work of competitors who stayed out on older tires by listening to the wise words of veteran spotter Eddie D'Hondt and settled into position number five. The last two laps proved to be exciting with a hard fought battle between Ankrum and Chastain for the fifth position. Ankrum would hold off Chastain after multiple attempts and would cross the finish line in position number four.
Tyler Ankrum on a great day in Austin:
“Well, it was really weird because the first half of the stage – we went to the stage break and not a lot of other drivers did. I came out right behind Christian Eckes and for 15 laps I didn’t see anyone. That was really confusing. I didn’t know where we were going to come out. We were on a two-stop strategy, and we came out – I want to say ninth or 10th – right when the caution fell. It was perfect. It was really a God send. Kyle (Busch) smoked me on the restart. I’ve got a lot to learn. I don’t know how he does that. We were able to get a fourth place finish out of this. Thank you to LiUNA!, Toyota. All of the Tundra TRD Pros are built here in Texas. I can’t thank everyone enough. Coming to Texas, I always love coming here. Austin is one of the best cities in the world.”
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