Tundra Playoff driver Tyler Ankrum was made available to media at ISM Raceway:
TYLER ANKRUM, No. 17 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra, DGR Crosley
Did you learn anything in practice you can use tonight?
“The first practice session actually went really well. It was really dusty to start with, but we ran really good lap times – a good race pace. We were like third or fourth on the board, which is encouraging for my first time being on this track since last year, when we finished sixth. We’re feeling really good. Second practice the sun came out and it made everything really, really hot and really tight. I think what we had first practice will be more of what we’ll have condition wise for tonight. I think what’s going to happen, the Cup guys and Xfinity guys will go out between now and qualifying and you’re going to see the track to tighten up a light with a lot of rubber laying down. Once that sunset goes down, there will be a ton of grip. I think we’ll be tight, but it’s just a tight loose right now. It’s really hot, the track is really greasy. Tonight you’ll see all that grease go away and it will grip up.”
How are you feeling knowing you are 15 points out at this point?
“It’s hard to say because I feel like this track really plays into my driving style. This is actually my favorite track, and it has been since I ran on it last year. I think with it being my favorite track, and the way I love this track races, just the overall in how competitive and how easy it is to race on this track. There’s so many places you can make speed. There’s more than one way to skin a cat here. I just think having that, I really love that kind of racing and I think if I just keep on doing what Tyler has been doing all year, we’ll be fine.”
How do you stay calm this weekend when it matters?
“I think you stay calm and don’t have to think about it until you have to. If you can just go out there and points race to death and finish really well, I think you could make it in if guys make mistakes or don’t necessarily finish in the top 10 in a stage. That’s taking into equation if you qualify really well. I think with the speed we have in our Tundra tonight, I don’t have to think really hard about it, I get to just go out and do it.”
How crazy do you anticipate tonight’s race being?
“I can tell you I’m just going to go out there and ride the lightning. It’s going to be full tilt out there tonight. I think you’ll see the Playoff guys race pretty decently, but with how this track races and how tight it is in certain points, I think it’s going to get really, really crazy. It got really crazy here last year. If we can stay out of harms way and stay out front, and run up front in all the stages, we’ll make it.”
How would you sum up your first full season in the series so far?
“For me, I think there’s one or two races we should have won, but didn’t win. I think Pocono is one of those, I think we made a really good pit stop and if I hadn’t got caught up with a lapped car and Ross (Chastain) ended up getting past me, and because of that he ended up winning the race. Stuff like that, I think I could have done a lot better at Canada finishing wise. Bristol could have been a lot better with electrical issues there and then Las Vegas, burning up two pistons. Stuff like that I look back on and those things are out of my control, and I think we could have had a really good race, then we didn’t. There’s even races where I made mistakes. Even Chicago, we had a top three winning truck I thought, and I got caught speeding on pit road. That’s where our year started to turn for us, where we started to be really competitive. At Martinsville, Ross was out and I almost in, now he’s in and two more of us are out. It just goes to show how close he still is to the bubble even though there are two or three guys right there. Me and (Austin) Hill talked at Toyota (Motorsports) Day there in Plano (Texas) at headquarters, were sitting there looking at the points and realized if I make it in, you’re out and if you make it, I’m out. Well at least this point in time there’s going to be a Toyota in no matter what. I think in other people’s eyes, we’ve taken a program that was practically nothing into something. In most people’s eyes we’ve overachieved or exceeded our expectations, which I’m really proud of. For me, personally, I’m really proud of what we’ve done here this year. Not just based off of what we’ve done on the racetrack, but also between what we’ve done as a team working really well together and become a family.”
Are you nervous about tonight’s race?
“Yes and no. When I’m sitting there in the truck and there’s all that down time when they’re making changes, it will creep to me a little bit. As soon as that truck turns on, it all kind of washes away. As soon as I go out on the track, I’m clear and my goal in mind is pure. I think the less time I spend thinking about it, the better.”
Toyota Racing PR