Rain plagues chance of great finish for Ankrum

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Tyler Ankrum finally had some luck fall his way at Martinsville Speedway in his seventh start at the 0.526-mile bullring, but unfortunately rain halted the Long John Silver’s 200 76 laps short on Friday night. The driver of the No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro had just earned the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap and was looking to mount a comeback from a rough start to the race. Ankrum currently sits 16th in the playoff standings after seven events.

After what looked like a bleak weather forecast for the week, mother nature finally decided to cut the drivers a break and brought sunshine to Martinsville Speedway Friday afternoon. Ankrum would be in group one for practice at the historic paperclip race track. Ankrum and his No. 16 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro timed in 25th fastest on the speed charts in practice, never getting clean lap to put up a fast time. That would all change in qualifying where Ankrum would time in 14th on the speed charts and have an outside seventh row starting position for the Long John Silver’s 200.

This would be a historic day for NASCAR as the Craftsman Truck Series drivers would be the first to start a short track oval on rain tires. Once the green flag dropped, Martinsville Speedway was showing how brutal she could be. Ankrum would get stuck in the top lane losing valuable track position on the wet racing surface. By lap 25 Ankrum radioed in he was constantly in a four wheel slide as grip was at a premium on the ever changing rain soaked surface of Martinsville Speedway. Ankrum would bring the No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro down pit road for a set of slick tires after losing a lap in the opening stage. 

The lucky dog spot would be one Ankrum would chase the rest of the night. It just seemed like lady luck was not on his side for the Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville Speedway. Every caution after the stage one break would find Ankrum being the second truck one lap down. Ankrum loved the balance of his truck throughout the night and the ever changing weather conditions. With 80 laps remaining in the race, Ankrum would finally get the valuable lucky dog and get back on the lead lap. However, this would be the final caution of the night as rain once again started to fall. The race was called official with 76 laps remaining in the event and rendered Ankrum and team to a 27th place finish.

Tyler Ankrum Quote:

“Martinsville is a place that I haven’t had much luck at the last couple years. After our sim time this week going into the race, I thought we were in a great position to come out with a great finish. Starting the race on the wet tires just did gel well with our truck and we got caught on the outside lane at Martinsville which is never a fun deal. I felt like the truck came alive once we put on slick tires after the competition caution, we would always come up one spot short to get the lucky dog. I think it would have been interesting if we were to put wet weather tires on again when it started raining, but I guess we will have to wait for next time. The finish tonight doesn’t represent all of the hard work everyone is putting in on this team. It’s frustrating to have the string of luck we’ve had lately and I can’t wait get to Kansas Speedway in a couple weeks.”

Hattori Racing Enterprises PR

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