Tyler Ankrum earned a first-career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory when he took the checkered flag in Thursday’s Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. The 18-year-old San Bernardino, Calif. native’s win also marked DGR-Crosley’s first victory in the series.
Ankrum made the move to the Truck Series this season after earning a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship title in 2018 with DGR-Crosley. Due to his age, he was forced to miss the first three races of the Truck Series schedule in 2019. Therefore, Ankrum was in a need-to-win situation to make the post-season Truck Series playoffs.
“I can’t thank everyone at DGR-Crosley enough: David [Gilliland], Bo [LeMastus], Bono [Kevin Manion] and everyone else for believing in me. They work so hard day in and day out. I cannot believe that we just did this; it’s incredible. This is a dream come true. I’ve always doubted myself, and I think tonight is going to wash all that away. I have a great group of partners this year that have gotten me this far, without them none of this would even be possible: Toyota, Railblaza, Academy Sports, Modern Meat. This is incredible. It’s going to take a lot more work to chase a Championship, but we are one step closer.”
Ankrum had a strong showing all night at the 1.5-mile track in Kentucky. He was scored fourth at the conclusion of both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the 150 lap competition. He led for 40 laps in Stage 3 before giving up the lead on pit road. While many chose to short pit, Ankrum’s Crew Chief, Kevin “Bono” Manion gave up the lead in order to get more fuel in the No. 17 Academy Sports/Railblaza Toyota Tundra on the last pit stop of the race. The strategy played out in Ankrum’s favor when the No. 24 ran out of fuel with only a few laps remaining. Ankrum went on to secure a first-career NASCAR National Series win.
“I was so worried because I couldn’t see the 24 truck ahead of me,” said Ankrum. “They kept telling me they needed me to get all I could out of it and that’s what I was focused on. I think I forgot to breathe the last three laps. I’m so thankful for what we’ve done here. This is a total team effort.”
While the night was special for Ankrum, it was also one for the history books for DGR-Crosley and team owners David Gilliland and Bo LeMastus. In just the second year of operation, the newly formed driver development organization was able to pick up their first Truck Series win, giving them a win in every series that they compete in across late models, K&N Pro Series, ARCA and the Truck Series.
“This win is super special,” said team co-owner Gilliland. “We couldn’t do it without the help of Bo [LeMastus], Toyota and all of our partners who have supported us since day one. We have a great group of people who left other opportunities to take a chance on our team. We are working so hard on developing something special and different at DGR-Crosley.”
“I’m so proud of Tyler,” Gilliland remarked. “I’ve been watching him race since he was 11 or 12 years old. To see these kids grow up and watch them move up and succeed within our organization is really special and something that we are really proud of. I’m so proud of every single person that we have at DGR-Crosley. This is awesome.”
While Ankrum collected the win, his teammate Dylan Lupton also earned a career-high finish as he and the No. 15 Toyota Tundra team scored a fifth-place finish in the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225.
The Truck Series will have a week off before heading to Pocono Raceway on July 27.