Ankrum Exits Daytona As Truck Series Point Leader


Tyler Ankrum in action at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (Ted Seminara photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series safely out of Daytona Int’l Speedway after a marathon season opener, Tyler Ankrum found himself able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Ankrum left the World Center of Racing Friday night at the Truck Series point leader, despite a lackluster 11th-place finish, thanks to a stage win and 16 laps led during the Fresh From Florida 250.

Driving the No. 18 LiUNA Chevrolet Silverado RST, Ankrum topped the second 20-lap segment of the Truck Series kickoff race, finding himself the leader when the fifth of a track-record 12 caution flags waved due to light rain around the 2.5-mile Daytona oval.

That brought the field down pit road as lap 40 went in the books, affording him the maximum 10 stage points available at the second and final stage break of the race.

Ankrum went on to a strong showing during the second half of the 250-miler, running toward the front of the field and working well in the draft with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing teammate Christian Eckes before being involved in the penultimate caution of the race with six laps left in regulation.

Contact between Chase Purdy and Ankrum led to a three-car incident on the approach to turn three that also collected Eckes in its wake, relegating Ankrum deep into the pack for the overtime restart that ultimately ended the race and pushed it one lap beyond its scheduled distance.

Picking his way through the multi-truck incident that erupted on the backstretch after the field had taken the white flag, Ankrum was credited with 11th place in his fifth Truck Series start at Daytona.

Combining his stage results and race finish, Ankrum earned 43 points for his efforts at the World Center of Racing, giving him a one-point edge over race winner Nick Sanchez in the early regular-season standings.

Tyler Ankrum (MHR photo)

While the finishing position was far from what Ankrum hoped for, he still found a silver lining in carrying the Truck Series point lead to next weekend’s stop at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway.

“[Eleventh] really was not the result we were looking for tonight,” Ankrum admitted. “The LiUNA Chevrolet was looking really strong in the first two stages, and we thought that we had a good shot to win this one tonight. It was nice to be able to win a stage and show the speed we have in our truck. Having Christian give us a push and be able to lead a good number of laps showed us what we are capable. I felt good being in the front until we got turned on the backstretch.

“I’m glad that we were able to finish the race and score points to lead the series after the first night.”

While the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series are still at Daytona for their respective season openers due to rain postponements on Saturday and Sunday, the Truck Series field is preparing for the Fr8 208 at Atlanta’s 1.54-mile quad-oval on Feb. 24.

Broadcast coverage of the event is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.