Toyota Racing – Tyler Ankrum
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS)
Pocono Raceway – July 26, 2019
DGR-Crosley driver Tyler Ankrum was made available to the media in Pocono:
Tyler Ankrum, No. 17 RAILBLAZA Toyota Tundra, DGR-Crosley
With it being your first time in a Truck here at Pocono, how do you approach this track?
“They don’t call it the ‘Tricky Triangle’ for nothing. It’s tricky, but I say tricks are for kids. I don’t think it will be that big of an issue in the race. I am really confident in our truck and what we brought today. Struggled a little bit in the mock run, but I feel like I took to the track pretty fast. We were able to get to work on the truck pretty quick. I am pretty proud of my team and the setup that they brought. I don’t think we were as good as we were in Kentucky, but this track is so hard because you have three different types of tracks in one track. Turn one has a lot of banking, and you are going 180 (mph) down the straightaway. Turn three you have a lot less banking, but you are going 150 (mph) down the straightaway. Then the dogleg is another animal all its own. Lot of different characteristics with this track, but it has been a lot of fun thus far.”
You are in the playoffs now with your win. How does that change the game for you and your team?
“It hasn’t changed a whole lot. The only thing that has changed is we’re actually considering points racing now. We’re concerned with getting stage points and wins. Throughout the whole year, we knew we had to win to get in, so that pretty much was what our strategy was – make the best pit road strategy to put us in a position to win. That is exactly what we did in Kentucky, even though we ran out front in all of the stages. Last year, you saw a lot of people pit three to four laps before the end of the stage to get that track position in the next stage. You can gain a lot of positions that way. You can also lose a lot of positions that way. I think it will all vary. I think it will matter on where you are running on the race track. Here you can short pit, but if you are behind the leaders more than 11 seconds, you’re at risk of going a lap down. Especially if you have a slow pit stop.”
Did you believe at your first race of the year, Martinsville, that this was a playoff contending team?
“I didn’t know at the beginning of the year, but I believed in the team. I just wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull through. I have such a veteran crew around me with a crew chief like (Kevin) ‘Bono’ Manion and an engineer like Chad Walters. Those two guys alone bring more than 30 years of experience, and I am just some 18-year-old kid. It helps a lot. I don’t think I could have made it as far as I have without all their help. Yesterday, we sat in the conference room at DGR and talked about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. I wasn’t confident in myself going in, but after we had that long talk, and going back home and watching film and doing more iRacing, I came here 100% confident. Without their support, I don’t think we would have been able to get that win, so I’m real proud of them.”
When you come to a place that you don’t have a lot of laps, you are kind of forced to drive off other people. Is that your plan?
“Well, that’s the hard thing. You’re a winner now, no one wants to talk to you; (laughter) no, it’s not that way. Everyone I have ever talked to, they’re all really fair in what they say. A lot of what they say makes a lot of sense. One thing that I always thought I was pretty good at was watching. I can go out there and pay attention to what I’m doing, and simultaneously be watching what other guys are doing. I went out there and I was following (Johnny) Sauter. You can pick up a lot. You can learn a lot about what these guys out here do.”
Talk about racing at Pocono Raceway with the new grip out there.
“The PJ1 is really nice. I love the PJ1. It was awesome at Kentucky. Just watching film from the past, it looked like, unless you made a mistake, there wasn’t a lot of passing. That really goes for most of the mile-and-a-halves that we go to. I’m glad they are implanting this PJ1. It opens up the top a lot more, but I don’t understand the logic of the PJ1 here because it is really, really high. The PJ1 might help going into (turn) one, because there is a lot more banking and a lot more room as it is. Even still, I don’t think it’s going to help a whole lot. I think we’re going to run underneath it. Even through the dogleg, not really. I could understand through the dogleg because you pretty much have to give it up in the dogleg if someone is underneath you because you are not going to make it off that turn. Even through turn 3, it’s so high. I don’t think there is going to be any value to be up there, because you are losing time with distance and space on the race track and I think we get good enough runs on the bottom, so I don’t think we will actually see until the race, but I think it will work out.”