Michael Annett Atlanta Recap

A flat tire early in the race and some nose damage later on derailed Michael Annett’s progress in Saturday’s Rinnai 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. The end result was a 20th-place finish for the Iowa driver in his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

After starting 21st, Annett had worked his way to 17th and was on the verge of cracking the top 15 when he called crew chief Jason Stockert on lap 31 to report a “bad vibration” on his Chevrolet. Two laps later, the right rear tire went down and he was forced to pit under green. Annett hit pit road to get more rubber, losing a lap in the process, before NASCAR put out the yellow flag. It worked out OK for the team, however, as Annett got the free pass to get back on the lead lap for the restart, and he finished Stage One in 27th place.

Having already pitted, Annett stayed out during the break and wound up starting Stage Two in 19th place, only to see a bevy of cars get past in the first couple of laps. Annett said earlier that the car lacked grip at both ends of the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval, home to the second-oldest pavement in the series, and it just kept getting looser. Nine laps into Stage Two, Brandon Jones had a similar incident to Annett’s and nearly collected Annett and two other drivers with a quick juke down to pit lane. Annett narrowly missed the collision.

In the meantime, battling in the middle of the pack, Annett clipped the wall in Turn 3 and did damage to the right front of his Pilot Flying J machine. That would prove problematic as the laps wound down. Near the end of Stage Two, leader Kevin Harvick put Annett a lap down with just three laps remaining, and Harvick added another car before it ended to deny Annett the free-pass position. Stockert called his driver to pit road for four tires, wedge and air pressure adjustments on the break, and Annett rejoined the field in 20th spot, still a lap in arrears.

Over the 83-lap final stage, Annett battled an ever-looser car. He was still 21st when he hit pit road again, under the green flag on lap 123, for tires, fuel and air-pressure changes. He rejoined in 27th as green-flag stops continued and shook out in 20th on lap 129. Four laps later, Harvick put him down another lap, and Annett reported that the balance was no better with the changes. Teammate Tyler Reddick had a tire go down with 25 laps to go while running in the top 10 and that advanced Annett to 19th for several laps, but Reddick regrouped and passed Annett for position with 12 laps remaining in the race to put him back to 20th at the finish. Harvick lapped all the way to seventh place by the time the checkered flag waved.

Michael Annett Quote: “It wasn’t the day we expected or wanted here at Atlanta. We had some trouble early with the tire going down and getting us behind, and then we nicked the wall in traffic and did some damage to the right front of the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. We were really loose after that and couldn’t get it any tighter. We’ll take it back to the shop and see what the damage can tell us, and get ready to go to Las Vegas.”

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.