Michael Annett New Hampshire Race Report

Michael Annett had a good run going in the early stages of Saturday’s Overton’s 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before rain interrupted it, moving from 23rd starting spot to 17th when the rain came down and put the race under the red flag after 31 laps.

When it resumed, Annett discovered that his brake pedal, a key component to success on the 1.058-mile oval, was inconsistent, and that complicated the rest of his run. When the green flag waved again, Annett reported that he had to pump the brakes up on every lap, which meant that consistency was going to be at a premium the rest of the way. He restarted fifth when the leaders in front of him pitted, and finished Stage 1 in 12th place.

Pitting at the end of Stage 1, crew chief Jason Stockert called for four tires, fuel and track-bar and air-pressure adjustments, in addition to taking a look at the brakes. He sent Annett back out in 29th spot, hopeful that the brake condition would ease. It seemed to work, as Annett put his head down and picked off 11 spots over the next 13 laps. By the end of Stage 2, he had climbed all the way back to 16th. Annett reported that the car was definitely better and had not lost rear grip, but he needed to turn better in the center of the corner. The brake problem was still there, which was affecting his consistency lap to lap.

Stockert called for more of the same changes as the first stop and sent his driver back out in 15th spot for the final 105 laps. Over that distance, Annett stayed in the top 16 and finished there, despite going a lap down with 57 laps remaining. He kept pushing, and Stockert played a long game by keeping him out several laps longer than planned to see if he could get back on the lead lap, but it wasn’t to be. He did get his lap back when the cars around and ahead of him pitted, but once he made his stop on lap 175, he was back a lap down. With no cautions—there were just three for a total of 15 laps, and two of them were at the end of stages--he lost another before the end of the race and finished 16th.

Kyle Busch won the race, followed by Ryan Preece, JRM teammate William Byron, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski. Annett’s finish moved him up a spot to ninth in the point standings, with a 57-point cushion over the playoff cut line.

Michael Annett, driver No. 5 Pilot Flying J team: “We kind of got behind the eight-ball early when the brake pedal got a little inconsistent, but we worked hard to stay in touch with the leaders all day. It was just so hard to run a consistent lap. Jason (Stockert) made good adjustments all day, keeping the rear grip and security in it, and we were turning solid laps, so it was a good lesson to learn. The Pilot Flying J team worked really hard to keep me in it, and we had a good day in the points, so we’ll take it and go on to Indy.”

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