NEW SMYRNA, FL – (November 17th, 2015) – Persistence pays. That was the rallying cry of the day for Tyler Ankrum and his team as they rebounded from the back of the field multiple times en-route to a well-earned fifth place finish at the 50th Annual Florida Governor’s Cup 200 for super late models held over the weekend at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.
The team’s struggles actually started in Friday’s practice session. “We unloaded with a pretty good car,” Tyler explained. “But the adjustments we were making weren’t taking it in a positive direction. I don’t know if we were chasing the car or the track.”
Saturday’s qualifying session saw the team put a setup in the car they thought would work. “The car got real tight,” the driver said. “I do think I probably left a little bit on the table, but not a top ten run. We ended up qualifying 17th.”
Race day on Sunday saw the hurdles continue. Battling for position on the inside with just five laps completed, the driver next to Tyler took the aero off Tyler’s No. 58 and Tyler spun. He had to pit for some body damage and returned to the race in 35th position.
He got to 20th position with a car that was now “loose” everywhere, meaning it wanted to spin. He decided to pit for some adjustments and started charging forward for a second time.
“The car then went back to being tight everywhere!” Tyler recounted. “I couldn’t even turn it. We got back up to 16th position before we decided to pit again since we weren’t halfway yet. We made some more adjustments and got back up somewhere near 20th at the break. We’d already started from the back three times at that point.”
The fun was only just beginning for Tyler. “When I came back out at halfway, we ran 15 laps then came in and put another new right rear on. Now we were coming from the back a fourth time! We missed a huge wreck and decided to make another adjustment because the car was wanting to get loose on me coming off the corners. We pitted one last time.”
For the fifth time in the event, Tyler restarted outside the top 20. There were just 30 laps left. He began to charge, having to wade through several more cautions. But he was determined.
When the checkered flag flew, the youngster had persisted, and wound up with a fifth place finish!
“My goal coming into the weekend was to learn,” Tyler smiled. “I sure feel like we did that! My team never gave up and I wanted to do all I could to give them a good finish for all their hard work. That was a crazy race! We never had time to relax even under cautions, because we all were trying to always improve the car and I was trying to improve myself. Thanks to my team and my sponsors for all they do. Fifth place in such a huge race in my fourth super late model start is a great day!”