LEXINGTON, Ohio — Tyler Ankrum led 20 of the 42 laps to score his maiden ARCA Menards Series victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Now if you read that lede without watching the SmartCoat 150, Friday, you’d think he all but put on a clinic.
Except he ran off-course.
With 18 laps to go, Ankrum out-braked himself and veered off into the gravel trap in Turn 1. Which he thought would work, because he did the same thing on the first restart.
Tyler Ankrum (02:46):
“So I’m thinking, ‘OK, I got more grip because I’ll be on the bottom, I’ll be in the rubber,'” he said. “And the further you can get close to the curb, the less uncambered the pavement is.”
Instinctively, he throttled up and escaped the kitty litter. If he didn’t, it was game over.
“I was probably going to lose a lap or two and my race would be done.”
He trailed the leader, however, by seven seconds. So barring a late caution, Ankrum needed the drive of a lifetime to win.
“I mean, in order to do that, you have to be not only really good on brakes, but you also have to be turning really good and have drive off,” he said.
Fortunately for Ankrum, he worked on doing just that over the “past couple of years,” and cut the deficit by seven seconds over the course of 12 laps.
Then with five laps to go, he made his move on Dean Thompson in the keyhole.
Ankrum drove away from the field and crossed the line to win.
And with a car he thought didn’t have the speed to reel in the leaders.
“It wasn’t until about a lap or two later, I passed one or two cars already and I could still see the leader when we’re coming out in Turn 2,” he said. “And I was thinking to myself, ‘I’ve got the car to do this. I can do this myself. At the least, I’ll make it back to the top-three.”
Of course, as one-off, this probably won’t have major championship implications. Jessie Love leaves Mid-Ohio with a 43-point lead.