Ankrum celebrates NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title
One year ago, Ruben Garcia Jr. left Dover International Speedway feeling that a victory had slipped from his grasp.
After 125 laps on Saturday, Garcia received his redemption as he earned the checkered flag in the “Crosley 125,” the season finale of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Garcia, driving the No. 6 Max Siegel Inc. Toyota, edged Brandon McReynolds by less than half a second to earn his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory of the season. Garcia won earlier this year at Memphis.
The 22-year-old from Mexico City posted an average speed of 99.206 mph in completing the 125-mile event in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 36 seconds.
Garcia led a race-best 71 laps in this event last year before an accident in the final laps ruined his finish.
“This is my favorite track that we visit,” said Garcia, who led a race-high 75 laps on Saturday. “I feel like we led every single lap here last year. It’s really cool to accomplish what we started last year. Finishing the season strong gives us momentum for next year.”
Garcia wasn’t the only driver doing a burnout on the frontstretch after the race as Tyler Ankrum celebrated his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season title with a smoke show of his own.
Ankrum, driving the No. 17 Modern Meat Company Toyota, had already secured the title before starting in the season finale. The 17-year-old California native ran in the top-5 for the majority of the race and led eight laps until a mishap on pit road led to an 11th-place finish, 13 laps behind Garcia.
“It’s not the race we wanted but definitely the season we wanted,” Ankrum said. “I was on my computer looking at the other drivers who have won the K&N Series title, and a lot of them are at the Cup level or Xfinity or Truck Series. The experiences we’ve had are amazing.”
In recent years, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champions have included Joey Logano (2007), Kyle Larson (2012) and William Byron (2015). Ankrum said he ran into many of his heroes in the garage area this weekend before the green flag dropped.
“Growing up in Southern California, you want to be like Jimmie Johnson,” Ankrum said. “Then, you’re walking in the garage and go ‘Oh, look, there’s Jimmie Johnson.’ It’s a great experience.”
Derek Kraus finished third on Saturday, followed by Sam Mayer in fourth and defending event and series champion Harrison Burton in fifth.
The “Crosley 125” included two designated red flag periods at 40-lap periods so teams could change tires and examine their vehicles. The race was originally scheduled for a Friday start before being postponed by rain.
One of the pre-race favorites, Todd Gilliland, led 40 early laps before a crash on Lap 50 ended his day and brought out one of the race’s five caution flags. Gilliland finished 14th.