By ARCA Menards Series
LEXINGTON, Ohio — On a restart with 18 laps to go Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, race-leader Tyler Ankrum got shoved off the track in Turn 1, dropping him out of the top 10.
Just 13 circuits later, with five laps to go, the 22-year-old from San Bernardino, California made the race-winning pass on fellow NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular Dean Thompson.
Ankrum and Thompson ran the Zinsser SmartCoat 150 to prepare for Saturday’s Truck Series race at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Ankrum, though, accomplished much more in his ARCA Menards Series run with his triumphant comeback.
“I knew I had a great car. We were really fast in practice and qualifying,” Ankrum said. “I just had to pull my head out of my rear end and keep it upfront. … I don’t think that if my car wasn’t as good as it was I could have driven through the field like that.
“I don’t want to do that again. I would have much rather just led all those laps.”
Ankrum, who’s in his sixth season of Truck Series competition, is the 2018 champion of what’s now the ARCA Menards Series East. Friday’s victory marked his first ARCA Menards Series (national) win in just his second start.
Hattori Racing Enterprises fielded both Ankrum’s ARCA car and his Truck Series ride for the Mid-Ohio weekend. That effort proved valuable with Ankrum’s effort Friday night.
“We were talking before the race about what we wanted to learn from this to take to the truck,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot. There are quite a few things we can take from this and add it to the truck.”
Thompson did not earn a top-five finish despite the speed he showed Friday at Mid-Ohio. That’s be cause he and fellow Venturini Motorsports driver Sean Hingorani tangled on the final lap, leaving Thompson with a 10th-place finish and Hingorani with a 13th-place run.
William Sawalich and Jack Wood, two more drivers scheduled to race in Saturday’s Truck Series event at Mid-Ohio, finished second and third, respectively.
ARCA Menards Series championship points leader Jesse Love finished fourth, an impressive run given the issues the VMS driver battled Friday. He started at the back of the field after failing to qualify with electrical issues.
“I don’t know what was going on [during the race],” Love said. “Whenever I’d get about two laps into a run, I’d just lose all my fuel pressure. It would just start sputtering and the fuel pressure gage would go way down.
“We were the best car on every corner of the race track. I thought we were the best car at the end today. It’s just, yeah, not sure what happened. Fuel pressure-wise, it went south.”
Dale Quarterley rounded out the top-five finishers.
ARCA Menards Series rookie Frankie Muniz finished fifth Friday. The former TV star was making his return to the track where an accident in 2009 halted his racing career.
“The racing is so fun in this series,” Muniz said. “It’s so tight, but I learned so much. It’s so different than what I used to race. I had a blast and learned a lot for Watkins Glen.”
Todd Souza, Conner Jones, Zach Herrin and Thompson completed the top-10 finishers.
Friday’s Zinsser SmartCoat 150 featured three cautions, one of which was the scheduled race break on Lap 22 of 42. The other two yellow flags were the results of issues for Tim Richmond (stopped on track) and Casey Carden (flat tire).
The ARCA Menards Series returns to action Saturday, July 15 for the Calypso 150 at Iowa Speedway, a combination race with the East Series. That race will be shown live on FS2 and FloRacing starting at 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET.