Race Weekend Central

Rejuvenated Tyler Ankrum Gets Vegas Runner-up, Leads Points

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — With a runner-up finish in Friday night’s (March 1) Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Tyler Ankrum proved that he is fresh and rejuvenated in 2024.

Ankrum was closing in on race winner Rajah Caruth in the closing laps of the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200, cutting the lead to 0.85 seconds before running out of laps. Still, the second place was Ankrum’s best finish since Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2020.

“It was a good truck,” Ankrum said. “We just got behind there in the second stage. Just lost the handling there, got behind.

“The pit crew did a fantastic job. The Trackhouse [Racing] guys, they’re an amazing pit crew. Can’t thank them enough or getting me my track position back.”

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Rajah Caruth Breaks Through For 1st Career Truck Victory at Vegas

Ankrum showed speed in the first two races of the year as well, finishing 11th and seventh, but those were the drafting tracks of Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Vegas was the first real test of speed for the Truck field, and Ankrum’s No. 18 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing team delivered.

The San Bernardino, Calif., native started the race in fifth and finished fourth in the first stage before falling out of the top 10 in stage two.

“It sucks that we got behind because we lost some of those stage points,” Ankrum said.

But the No. 18 crew went to work, and the long green-flag run to end the race worked to Ankrum’s advantage.

“Had some great restarts and had a really good long run truck there at the end,” Ankrum said. “Just was able to free it up enough to able to make some moves there at the end.”

Ankrum entered the race as the Trucks points leader with a 10-point lead. He leaves Vegas with a five-point advantage over Ty Majeski.

“Considering before this year [eighth was] my highest ever finishing in points, so I’m really hyped up for what we got coming this year,” Ankrum said.

The sixth-year Trucks veteran initially turned heads as a rookie when he won at Kentucky Speedway in 2019, but he has not won since then. The past three seasons, he didn’t even make the playoffs.

Part of the resurgence of Ankrum’s career is due to his change of team. Last year, he raced for Hattori Racing Enterprises, which now no longer races in Trucks full time. This year, he joined MHR, which won four races with Christian Eckes last year.

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Ankrum noted that he’s having a lot more fun than last year and that a similar year to last year might’ve led to a career change.

“Oh my gosh, I mean, compared to last year?” Ankrum said. “Compared to last year, if you had’ve told me I had to do that again this year I would’ve quit.

“I would’ve taken my pickup truck, loaded up my horse trailer and headed to Texas somewhere and found a ranch to work on. But no, this is so much fun. I wouldn’t give this up for anything in the world.”

Instead of being a rancher, Ankrum will try to build upon his points lead and strong start as the Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway and Circuit of the Americas later in March.

“And I love Bristol,” Ankrum said. “I’ve had a lot of success, a lot of stage points won at Bristol.

“So has the 98. So has the 19. So has all the guys I’m racing for the lead here points wise. So I feel really good about our odds heading to Bristol and COTA. … And I think we’ll have good trucks.”

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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