Interview with Eagle Raceway 2018 Sprint Car Champion Tyler Druekeeagle
By Greg Soukup
Having started out running a what he called a “yard kart” at a very young age, it is no big surprise that 24-year old Tyler Drueke from Eagle, Nebraska went on to win his second championship in a row in the Racesaver IMCA Sprints at Eagle Raceway last season. From that early beginning he moved into junior sprints at 11, the restrictor class go-karts and up to the outlaw mini-sprints. His first full-sized sprint experience was in a 360 in 2010. He made the switch to the Racesaver sprints full-time in 2016 after testing the waters in 2015 and has taken the points win the last 2 seasons.
“I think that running the higher horsepower 360’s was an advantage when you start running the Racesavers over the drivers who haven’t had that experience. Racing a sprint car is all about experience. As much as you can get on the race track the better off you’re going to be”.
I asked if he planned to top Mike Boston’s record of 7 points championships in the sprints at Eagle, and he replied “I don’t know about that! We’ve got a long way to go to do that. We’ve got to think about 3 before we ever start thinking about 7 or 8. We’ll put things together and see where that takes us”.
I then questioned what he thought brought about last season’s championship. “Perseverance is probably the #1 thing. After we did it in 2016 I didn’t want to get stagnant and do the same things again. If you go to Eagle every week sometimes you can fall into a rut where you just do the same thing week in and week out. Even though you might be having success, if you’re not stepping outside of your comfort zone somebody else is going to find something, catch up to you and pass you on by before you even know it. We started out last year trying a lot of different stuff. It worked when we hit it right and it was wicked fast. The first night of the Icebreaker Challenge we were about as good as we could have been I think. Right up until I got into the wall that is. I hit it and broke the Jacobs Ladder. So, then about mid-season we just weren’t consistent with what we were trying. We talked it over and decided that ‘If we’re going to win this deal we’ve got to stop that right now’. We went back to what we did in 2016. When we did that our results came right back and started finishing in the top 5 every week. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say that some other guys had some bad luck, but we got all of our bad luck out of the way at the beginning of the year and that led to a very good second half of the year”.
“I need to thank Matt Zoz. He pretty much does all of the work on the car. Being a truck driver, I don’t get home too early at night and I leave really early in the morning. He takes a big load off of my shoulders, and I know 100 percent that I could not do it without him. Also, Dustin Gerdes drives up from Auburn ever week. My Dad and my little brother; just like a lot of other families we started racing as a family when I was 11 or 12 years old and we’ve been doing it that way ever since. Plus, there’s my fiancé Brandy. She likes to come to the races and her favorite part is the interaction with the young fans. She’s going to school to be a teacher, so she enjoys when I and the other drivers have their interactions with the fans”.
What does the 12 team have in store for next year? “Well; my parents think I’m crazy, but I’ve been looking at the schedules and I’ve put about 70 races on my schedule. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it to all of them, but as of right now we’ll be at Eagle Raceway every weekend. I think we’ll go to Cameron, Missouri every Friday with the Racesaver. I’ve kind of centered the schedule around the highest paying shows with the least amount of travel. We’ll definitely be at the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals”.