Michael Annett Kentucky Race Report

The first race of the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs at Kentucky Speedway ended with Michael Annett and his Pilot Flying J team up one spot in the Playoff points, but farther behind in the quest to advance to Round 2 in two weeks’ time.

Annett, who has had solid success on the 1.5-mile oval in the Bluegrass State, started the race 18th and spent Stage One trying to sort out the handling on his Chevrolet. Just 20 laps into the 200-lap race, Annett called crew chief Jason Stockert to report that the car was pivoting around the right front tire and the right rear was being pulled out of the track. He had fallen to 20th spot by then, but was able to gain one back to finish 19th at the end of Stage One. On the lap-47 pit stop, Stockert made air pressure changes to help Annett’s handle, which had sorted itself out to a degree during the remainder of the 45-lap run only to introduce a loose condition to the mix, and a quick stop sent him back out for Stage Two in 15th spot.

The restart went a lot better this time around, speed-wise, and Annett gained two spots after the initial rush to 13th, only for the ghosts to reappear. Clean air made him tight and he was lacking lateral grip. A spin brought out the first non-Stage-end caution on lap 75. Stockert elected to keep Annett out on the track while several others in front of him pitted, moving Annett to 10th in the order for the restart. When the green waved once again, Annett got caught in the crush and dropped to 15th two laps later, but quickly regained one of those spots and held on for 14th at the end of Stage Two.

More air-pressure adjustments and some on the track bar went into the No. 5 Chevrolet on the ensuing pit stop, trying to build more rear security and help the front end work better. He restarted 15th for the final segment, but soon reported that the changes were not providing the needed support. He battled on from 17th until green-flag pit stops began and despite being a lap down to leader Tyler Reddick, he pitted from second place on lap 153. Six laps later, he went back down a lap in 17th spot. He picked up a spot to 16th and rode the rest of the way to finish there.

The finish put him 11th in the points, 35 adrift of leader and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier and 12 out of eighth place, the final spot that will move on to Round 2 of the Playoffs with two more races to run.

Michael Annett, driver, No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet: “We were hoping for a better start to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs tonight at Kentucky, but we could never get the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to handle like we needed it to. We couldn’t take off the way we needed to, no matter what Jason (Stockert) and the team guys tried. Add to that the fact that we ran under green so much, and that was pretty much our night. We gained a spot in the points, but we have more ground to make up. We’ll go on to Dover and try to get some of that back next weekend.”

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