Tyler Erb completed his most successful season to date in Dirt Late Model racing in 2019. The driver of the Best Performance Motorspots Rocket finished fourth in the final standings on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and compiled a total of ten victories in all the forms of Late Model racing in which he competed.
One key to the New Waverly, Texas driver’s success last season was the fact that he got off to a hot start during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks by scoring one win at Golden Isles Speedway then adding two more triumphs at East Bay Raceway Park. Coming out of the box in such an explosive way during his first season with the Best Performance organization played a key role in determining his top-5 result in the standings on the national touring series.
The 23-year-old driver’s hope coming into the 2020 campaign is that he and his team will not only keep pace with three-time and defending Lucas Oil champion Jonathan Davenport as well as the other series contenders but to beat them out in the final rundown.
“It just makes it a lot easier,” Erb said of getting off to a good start in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “It’s hard to come from behind and beat guys like JD and those guys in the points. We put ourselves in a pretty good spot starting the year out like we did(in 2019). I felt like we fell off a little bit, not bad by any means, I just wasn’t as good as he was.”
Erb went on to say that preparation is essential for early season success.
“It’s critical to come out of the gate strong and that’s why we come down here and test and do all of that stuff,” he pointed out in an interview conducted in the Golden Isles Speedway pit area. “We’ve got the same kind of goal here. We’ll do the best we can and try to get top-5s and go on to the next day and keep trying to knock down top-3s and top-5s. That’s what you’ve got to do.”
Another key ingredient for performing well is that of maintaining the car. With so many races contested during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks the driver who is entering his second season with Best Performance relies heavily on veteran crew chief Randall Edwards and the rest of his crew.
“That’s huge,” Erb declared regarding maintenance of the car. “That’s where Randall does such a good job keeping this thing up and going. I mainly get to focus on the shocks, and springs, and bodies. We’ve got a really good team and that makes it a lot easier not having to be out here by ourselves. We’re three good guys and we all work well together.
“You can’t break, you know,” he added. “You’re never going to win if you break. You’ve got to finish so the maintenance is a huge part of it.”
While his 2020 SpeedWeeks hasn’t gotten off to the same hot start as his 2019 effort, Erb has posted two top-5 finishes through Wednesday’s action at East Bay. Considering that the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has instituted a rule that will allow teams to count their best five results out of the eight contested races, the No. 1 operation could still emerge from these two weeks in a solid position.
Erb believes that he is in a more comfortable situation this season than was the case in 2019 considering that he and Edwards have now had a full year of working together.
“Me and Randall know how to work with each other,” he explained. “It’s going to make it a little easier this year going to a lot of the same places and we know how we all operate and just how to work together. I think we should do better. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. We have everything we need so that’s our plan which is to do better than we did last year.”
This young pilot is often regarded as one of the hardest chargers in Dirt Late Model racing. At the same he says that, with experience, he is learning how and when to best use that aggression.
“Some night’s are like that but that’s where J.D. has gotten really good,” he said of accepting what the car will allow for on a particular night until the race’s final stretch. “He’ll ride fourth or fifth then the last ten laps he drives super hard and will make up those extra two or three spots. I think that’s where I was kind of lacking last year.”
Erb says there were times in which he may have focused too much on the big picture.
“I was so focused on finishing that I gave up a lot of positions later in the race just trying to maintain,” he recalled. “I was really focused on the points and was trying to do as good as I could but I think there’s fine line between trying to win every race and just trying to finish. I think this year, just knowing what I know, I can be a tad more aggressive. There were times in the past when I would be too aggressive. There is an on and off switch for it but we came down here to try to win as many races as we can because the guy that wins the most races will be the one that wins the points at the end of the year. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Erb’s goal for 2020 is clear.
“I want to win the Lucas Oil championship, that’s the number one goal. We’ve had a lot of time this winter, The guys have worked hard and I went to Australia and raced. That’s what I want to achieve. I achieved my goal last year by running in the top-5 as a rookie. You’re never going to win it if you don’t aim to win it and that’s we came down here to do. We’ve got all the resources.”
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