Tyler Ankrum, Chase Purdy hope to pick up the pace with Hattori

NASCAR Outdoor Camping World Truck Series motorist Tyler Ankrum is now in the trip he’s discovered himself coveting.

“I can’t inform you the number of times I’ve been making laps on the race course and the 16’s blown my doors off and I’ve stated to myself, ‘Wow, I wish I was in that truck,’” Ankrum said Tuesday during a Toyota media teleconference. “And it seems to have come true.”

After two seasons at GMS Racing, Ankrum is replacing Xfinity Series-bound Austin Hill in the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota Tundra.

Also joining Hattori is Ankrum’s colleague at GMS, Chase Purdy. He’ll drive the No. 61 Toyota Tundra next season, providing Hattori 2 full-time Truck entries for the very first time.

Both seek to alter their current fortunes.

After making his very first Truck win as a novice in 2019 with David Gilliland Racing, Ankrum couldn’t get another throughout his 2 years at GMS. He stopped working to make this year’s Truck playoffs, and his winless streak now sits at 55 races.

“I really see this as an opportunity,” Ankrum stated of his brand-new group. “A change of pace, fresh outlook, fresh people to work with, learning how to communicate in different ways, learning how to communicate with different types of people. For me, it’s a way to recalibrate.”

Ankrum will work with team chief Scott Zipadelli, who assisted the No. 16 group and motorist Brett Moffitt to the 2018 Truck title. Zipadelli states he’s concentrated on enhancing Ankrum’s race craft and having him take a look at races in a different way than previously.

“I think the races that Tyler, him and his team, have performed well have been impressive,” Zipadelli stated Tuesday. “We’ve got to work on the consistency as a group.

“Obviously, you go to Daytona, you want to survive, right? But the rest of the races, we want to run in the top seven every single week and build our points up the first five, six races.

“Focus on just execution, not making any mistakes. And once we learn each other and learn our weaknesses and strengths, we’ll polish those up as we go.”

When It Comes To Purdy, his novice season this year with GMS was a rough one. He suffered 6 DNFs and published simply 2 top-10 surfaces, while likewise missing out on the Watkins Glen race after evaluating favorable for COVID-19.

Like Ankrum, Purdy has actually seen Hattori’s efficiency. However he’s seen the group’s togetherness too.

“I think Tyler said it best – the 16 truck didn’t just blow his doors off, it blew mine off too,” Purdy said Tuesday. “Obviously, I know the kind of equipment and people over here at HRE. It’s a tight group. It’s like family. Everybody works together closely, and they pride themselves on that.

“I think that goes a long way and it’s definitely a fresh start. Now that I’ve got this year underneath me, I’m ready to hit the ground running. I have high expectations and I’m ready to do whatever I can to perform and exceed those expectations.”

Meanwhile, as Ankrum and Purdy get acclimated, Zipadelli is helping keep Hattori’s expansion to two entries on track.

“You would think that the challenges would be ‘one plus one is two’ and there’d be twice as many challenges – but it’s probably more like a ‘four,’” Zipadelli shared. “With the way COVID has affected the industry over the years and some of our vendors and manufacturers and parts, it’s kind of slowed everything down.

“But we’ve made some really big gains the last two weeks getting some of these parts and pieces and having quite a few new employees throughout the facility. It’s really moving along. The last two or three weeks have really shaped up pretty good.

“Heading into the holiday season, the guys will get a break and when we come back, it’ll be full steam ahead.”

Niece rounds out 2022 lineup

Niece Motorsports announced Tuesday that Kris Wright will drive its No. 44 Chevrolet, completing its full-time driver lineup for 2022. Wright joins 2021 Truck playoff driver Carson Hocevar, Dean Thompson, and Lawless Alan.

This season, Wright ran the majority of the Truck schedule (16 of 22 races) for Young’s Motorsports, posting a top finish of 12th in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

He also ran all seven road course races in the Xfinity Series, posting a top finish of 17th for Sam Hunt Racing at Watkins Glen.

“As a group we are really excited about the direction our organization is heading, going into the 2022 season,” said Niece Motorsports general manager Cody Efaw in a release. “Kris is an important piece of that puzzle, so we are happy to have him join the team.

“I think the four drivers we have set for the 2022 season will complement each other well and work well together. We have big expectations next season and we’re working hard to get there.”

Niece fielded three full-time entries this season; Hocevar (No. 42) and Ryan Truex (No. 40) had their own, while multiple drivers, including Alan, shared the third entry (No. 45).

The group also had a fourth part-time entry (No. 44). Thompson made his Truck debut at the Phoenix season finale in that entry.

Hill Motorsports expands to 2 Trucks

Timmy Hill‘s Hill Motorsports outfit will expand to two Truck entries in 2022 and switch manufacturers to Toyota, the team announced Monday.

Timmy Hill himself will drive the No. 56 entry full-time after sharing the seat with brother Tyler for the past three seasons.

Plans for the team’s second entry, including a driver lineup, schedule and truck number, will be revealed at a later date.

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Trucks: Tyler Ankrum, Chase Purdy want to get the speed with Hattori initially appeared on NBCSports.com

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.