Michael Annett Pocono Race Report

They call Pocono Raceway the Tricky Triangle for a reason, and on Saturday, the 2.5-mile triangular oval played tricks all afternoon. Michael Annett’s strategy play near the end of the Pocono Green 250 nearly flipped the script, but a tight condition in the No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet meant he finished 13th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event.

Annett overcame a speeding penalty on his first pit stop at the end of Stage 1 which sent him to the rear of the field for the restart. The Iowa native worked his way patiently up the ladder on the restart, gaining several spots in the first eight laps. In seven more he had cracked the top 20 and with two laps to go in Stage 2 he was 13th. The first of just two cautions, for Paul Menard’s spin and crash off Turn 1, waved at that point, and Annett told crew chief Kevin Stockert that the tight condition was better, but he needed more of the same to make time. Stockert obliged with air pressure adjustments that made it better, and Annett would begin the final stage in 16th.

He was 15th at lap 61, and reporting his Pilot Flying J machine was loose in and tight off. As other drivers began to hit pit road, Annett stayed out and advanced into the top five on lap 67. He stayed there in third, trailing leader and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier and Brandan Gaughan, who was trying to stretch his fuel to the end of the race. A caution flag with 22 laps to go for Brandon Jones’ blown left rear tire entering Turn 1 put Stockert and Annett in a good window to put on the last set of Goodyear Eagle tires they had in the pit stall.

Annett stopped for four tires and air pressure adjustments, emerging from pit road in 13th spot for what would be the final restart of the race on lap 84. The fresh tires allowed Annett to gain three spots on the first lap, to 10th, but the tight condition returned with a vengeance over the final 11 laps and he finished 13th.

Brad Keselowski won the race, followed by Allgaier, Kyle Larson, JRM’s Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez. Gaughan, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Matt Tifft rounded out the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 5 Pilot Flying J team: “The last run, our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was the tightest it had been all day. We had a good shot at a top-10 finish today, maybe even a top-five, after Kevin (Stockert) made that strategy call to get us the opportunity. We were just tight pretty much all day, and we got it better on the pit stops. We needed a little more of that, to let me get off the corners a little better without having to play with the gas. I don’t know what happened on the speeding penalty. Still, it was a good run overall, and we had a good plan. We’ll go on to Michigan and see if we can keep that going.”

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, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers and 43 Boss Shops all of which accept MyRewards loyalty cards, Pilot Flying J’s loyalty rewards program. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 70,000 parking spaces for trucks, 4,900 showers and more than 5,000 diesel lanes offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump. Pilot Flying J is currently ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. Visit www.pilotflyingj.com for more information.