Tyler Ankrum constructed his best effort at Martinsville Speedway in his sixth start at the 0.526-mile bullring as he scored a 10th-place finish on Friday night. The driver of the No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro earned his second consecutive top-10 finish of the season and earned back-to-back top-10 results for the first time since 2020 to maintain a tie for ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings.
Ankrum started the 200-lap event from the eighth position after weather washed out practice and qualifying. The outside lane dealt Ankrum an uphill battle on the initial start, causing him to slip outside the top-10, but a caution on lap 39 in the opening stage provided him an opportunity to regain positions. Ankrum clawed his way back up to 10th in the five-lap dash to the Stage 1 checkers on lap 50 to earn one point. Under the caution, crew chief Scott Zipadelli brought Ankrum to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment to improve his tight handling condition in the center of Martinsville’s flat corners.
Stage 2 began with a restart on lap 61 as Ankrum lined up 24th after the top 16 trucks elected to stay on track during the caution. Tight racing and a clogged racetrack prevented Ankrum from advancing, but a caution on lap 79 opened an avenue for the No. 16 team to position themselves to challenge for their top-10 finish. Zipadelli and the LIUNA team brought Ankrum to pit road for the final time under the caution for four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments. Ankrum restarted 27th on lap 86 and finished Stage 2 in 23rd on lap 100, but inherited a top-10 position when the majority of the field pitted under the stage caution.
The race’s second half effectively went green on lap 117 with Ankrum in seventh position. A pair of cautions in quick succession saw Ankrum positioned in the outside lane in 10thplace, and fall to 13th, but the 21-year-old repossessed those positions on a lap 163 restart. Ankrum utilized the inside lane to full effect by immediately moving to 11th and chased down a top-10 position in the waning laps with outstanding long-run pace. Ankrum claimed the 10th position coming to the white flag and took the checkered flag in 10th for his best result in six starts at Martinsville.
Tyler Ankrum Quote:
“The balance of the truck pretty much stayed the same the entire time. Right after the race, we saw the front brake fans weren’t working, but we had a really good long run truck. It took about five to eight laps for the truck to come in. Just was really tight on restarts, and I would free up as the run went on. Really proud of the guys. This is my first top-10 ever at Martinsville, and this is the first time I’ve ever come to Martinsville and not have a destroyed truck that wasn’t completely wrecked. I’m really proud of our LIUNA Toyota Tundra TRD Pro team. I’m proud of myself to be honest and we’ll get ready for the next race on Bristol dirt.”