MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2018)- Tyler Ankrum clinched the 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) Championship over the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ankrum’s 50-point lead over Tyler Dippel allowed him to seal the deal before the season finale at Dover International Speedway.
Although the 17-year-old NKNPSE rookie had a 51-point lead entering the weekend, clinching the title didn’t come easily. After starting the race from the fourth position, poor handling in Ankrum’s No. 17 Modern Meat Co. Toyota Camry relegated him to 12th by the time of the first scheduled caution flag on lap 40. Ankrum pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments under the five-minute break. During the next 40 laps, he remained outside of the top-10 — an unfamiliar position for Ankrum this season. On lap 80, Ankrum brought the car back down pit road for more adjustments, setting him up for the final 45 lap run. He passed two cars on the restart and maintained the 11th position before a caution came out on lap 122. On the green-white-checkered restart, Ankrum had a solid restart before contact with his teammate resulted in a 12th-place finish in the Apple Barrel 125. With Dippel finishing only one position ahead of him in 11th, Ankrum was able to secure the title.
“It was a hectic race, and an issue about halfway through caused us to pit off schedule,” said Ankrum. “With two to go, we had a caution, and I think we went from like 13th to sixth on the restart. On the final lap we got put into the fence by another car, so we ended up 13th but were still able to clinch.”
Even though the 17-year-old rookie scored his worst finish of the season, it’s a weekend he’ll never forget.
“It’s been a really fun weekend. We fought the balance throughout the whole race, but overall it was an awesome race. I had a lot of fun out there knowing that every position mattered. My DGR-Crosley team helped keep me motivated and calm throughout the race. These guys work so hard, I just can’t say enough how proud I am of them. I’ve had a blast with this team all year. This is fun – four wins, a Pole and we just won the Championship. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it, but it’s an awesome feeling. We’ve got one more to go at Dover, and I can’t wait to get there, contend for the win and celebrate this Championship with my guys.”
The Crosley 125 at Dover International Speedway will take place on Friday, October 5.