Tyler Ankrum tied his best-career dirt track finish on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway after delivering a ninth-place result. The driver of the No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro completed a fierce late-race rally from 20th position with less than 25 laps remaining after being black flagged and forced to make repairs to a front bumper bar. His performance at the “Sprint Car Capital of the World” marks the second time this season he has recorded consecutive top-10 results and earned him the eighth most points of all drivers in the field.
The San Bernardino, Calif. driver turned in a strong effort in his heat race by finishing fourth and earning nine markers in the passing points format. He took the green flag in 13th for the 150-lap event and immediately contended with a lack of right rear grip in his Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Ankrum ran 15th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 40 and came to the attention of crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the LIUNA team for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment to add forward bite.
Knoxville’s legendary surface also underwent an adjustment during the stage break as the track crew reworked the outside groove. After restarting 15th on lap 41, Ankrum briefly dropped to 18th before making a striking charge up the leaderboard. Following a restart on lap 73 in 15th, Ankrum blitzed the outside cushion to the fullest effect and rocketed inside the top 10 to collect one point at the end of Stage 2 on lap 90.
He, along with the majority of the lead lap trucks, pitted under the final stage break for four tires, fuel, and no adjustments, as his Toyota Tundra TRD Pro displayed sufficient forward bite on corner exit. Ankrum restarted in the ill-fated bottom lane on lap 91 and settled into 13th position, but immediately regained his momentum. He quickly rejoined the top-10 on lap 93 and ran in 10th when the caution flew on lap 194. An exposed bumper bar caught the attention of race officials and forced Ankrum to pit road to make repairs. After restarting 20th on lap 133, Ankrum put on a furious charge by advancing to 13th in three laps. He took advantage of a restart with four laps to go to advance from 12th position and earn his second straight top-10 finish in ninth at the checkered flag.
Tyler Ankrum Quote:
“We had a really strong LIUNA Toyota Tundra TRD Pro after the first pit stop. I thought our strength was forward bite in practice and it took us a little while to find it tonight. Scott and the guys made a great adjustment on the first pit stop and our truck came alive after that. I was able to be aggressive with the throttle running the top and still get a good drive on corner exit. It was really physical racing and everyone’s noses are tore up, and unfortunately we must have had a bumper bar exposed and we had to come to pit road to fix it. It’s nice that we were able to drive back up through there. That shows how good of a truck we had tonight, but I think we could have had a top-five if not for that. We’re starting to regain some momentum, so hopefully we can continue that at Nashville next week.”