Tyler Ankrum’s quest to match a career high three-consecutive top-10 finishes was foiled by a pair of punctured tires on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS). The driver of the No. 16 AISIN Toyota Tundra TRD Pro looked to tally another top-10 dirt finish but was dealt a 31st-place result after a second cut tire less than 40 laps from the finish at “Thunder Valley”.
The San Bernardino, Calif. product earned the 20th-place starting spot by virtue of a fourth-place finish in the second of four passing points heat races on Saturday afternoon. A seven-point total lined him up in row 10 to start the 150-lap main event. Heavy and tacky track conditions in the opening stage made advancing through the field a significant challenge. Ankrum ran as high as 19th on lap 31 before a cut right rear tire on the final lap of Stage 1 caused him to spin and suffer contact from another competitor on lap 40.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the AISIN team repaired the right rear quarter panel that was ripped away by the shredded tire and returned Ankrum to the track with a fresh set of tires, and chassis adjustments to aid his forward drive on corner exit. On lap 41, Ankrum restarted 29th and radioed that his balance was “really loose” due to the damaged right rear quarter panel. He received a pair of sizeable chassis adjustments under a lap 56 caution and finished Stage 2 in 28th.
A set of fresh tires and one more round of adjustments armed Ankrum with a more balanced racetruck to begin the final stage on la 93. Ankrum advanced from 28th to 20th in less than 20 laps as BMS’ dirt surface began to dry out. However, as Ankrum was continuing his climb forwards, contact resulting from a three-wide maneuver resulted in a cut right front tire which forced him to pit road under green and lost three laps. The second flat tire of the evening relegated Ankrum to a 31st-place finish.
Tyler Ankrum Quote:
“We had a really good AISIN Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in practice yesterday and the track had a lot more moisture in it for the race. The pace was quite a bit higher and made it difficult to complete passes, but the guys made the truck handle better even after we had the first flat tire tear up our quarter panel. We got the balance better and started moving forward with about 50 to go, but we just got in a hole that closed up and knocked the valve stem off the right front tire and pretty much ended our night. It was great to have so many folks from AISIN with us. It was great to run their colors for the first time and always love seeing the support from our partners.”