Michael Annett Homestead-Miami Race Recap

Michael Annett finished the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season by guiding his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro SS to a sparkling ninth-place finish in the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night. Annett’s third top-10 finish of the season came in the race that also netted JR Motorsports its third NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and second in a row when Tyler Reddick earned the race victory.

Firing off 14th for the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile track, Annett needed just 21 laps to gain two spots and on lap 33, he took 11th place. He ran the rest of the 45-lap Stage One in that spot and came to the attention of crew chief Travis Mack and his pit crew with a couple of problems to solve. His Chevrolet was too tight to run the top, and that’s the fast way around Homestead, but also a little too loose to run the bottom. Mack dialed up air-pressure and track-bar adjustments for the four-tires-and-fuel stop and sent Annett back out without losing a spot on the track.

In Stage Two, Annett lost a spot early and ran 12th for the remaining distance, telling Mack that he was too free on late exit to make up time and that the nose of the car was not giving him the front turn off the corners that he needed. More air pressure changes were made and Annett fired off for the final 110-lap stage of the season in 11th place.

Annett lost out in a scrum at the start, falling all the way to 17th by lap 98, but as the field sorted itself out and the championship contenders headed back up front, Annett was able to gain three spots to 14th in short order. During that period, Annett told Mack that his Pilot Flying J Camaro wasn’t “plowing tight, but it’s close.” By lap 125, Annett’s long-run-friendly machine had recovered to 12th spot and Annett turned down pit road under green-flag conditions for his final stop on lap 140 for four tires, fuel and more adjustments.

That put him down in 20th spot and a lap off the leaders’ pace. Spotter Kevin Hamlin told his driver that he needed a couple of qualifying-speed laps to gain back the ground he’d lost, and Annett dialed those up. On lap 142, Hamlin reported that Annett’s lap time was his best of the night by more than half a second. As the remaining lead-lap cars made their stops, Annett advanced to 10th on lap 147 and sat 11th with 50 laps left in the season.

As Reddick, who took the lead with 53 laps remaining, was clicking down the laps toward the championship he would end up winning, Annett was moving toward the top 10. On lap 187, Annett moved down a shade to allow Reddick his preferred high line and went down a lap in the process. That didn’t mean he slowed down. With 10 laps remaining in the race, Annett advanced to ninth place in the running order and brought it home in that position.

Michael Annett Quote: “What a way to finish the season! We ran strong all night, Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) made good calls, Kevin Hamlin kept me out of trouble on the track and we finished ninth. We had good pit stops all night, and all year, really, and it was an awesome way to end the season. We’re going to take the momentum that we have from this race forward to next year. I really have to thank my whole team and of course, Pilot Flying J. Congratulations to Tyler and to all of JR Motorsports for winning the title for the second straight year.”

About Pilot Flying J: Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, is committed to connecting people and places with comfort, care and a smile at every stop. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Flying J has more than 750 retail locations in 44 states, Roadside assistance available at over 145 locations nationwide and growing as part of its Truck Care program, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers, and 34 Boss Shops. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 72,000 parking spaces for trucks with Prime Parking at more than 400 locations, 5,200 deluxe showers and more than 6,200 diesel lanes with 5,200 offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump. Pilot Flying J is currently ranked No. 15 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. Visit www.pilotflyingj.com for more information.