Michael Annett Richmond Recap

Michael Annett played the long game on Friday night at Richmond Raceway, taking his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a 14th-place finish in the GoBowling 250, the opening round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. The Iowa native overcame a pit-road speeding penalty on the final stop and advanced two spots in the final laps, getting past Cole Custer for the last one.

Firing off from 17th spot, Annett saved his Pilot Flying J Camaro for the longer runs. After falling back as far as 19th, Annett began advancing again after 30 laps and gained 16th place on lap 66, nine laps before the end of Stage One. In the remaining circuits, Annett moved up to 14th and was getting better when everyone else was fading fast.

On the break, Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that he was loose to start and, unless he got off the gas early, the right front tire began to chatter. Mack called his driver to pit road for four tires and fuel, but no further adjustments, and sent him back out one spot better than when he came in.

In Stage Two, Annett played the same strategy, biding his time until those ahead came back to him. By the time there were five laps left in Stage Two, Annett had just taken 15th from Brandon Jones when the first caution for a racing incident waved. Ryan Reed and Ty Majeski tangled off Turn 2, and Annett was in the area when it happened. He was also concerned about his handling, telling Mack that he started free again, got tight a lot sooner than he had the first run and had to deal with a slide on late exit at both ends.

On his pit stop at the break, Mack made air-pressure and track-bar adjustments to help the handle and put some tape on the grille to go with four tires and fuel, maintaining his race position for the restart on lap 158. An early caution for a spin in Turn 4 allowed Annett to communicate that the changes had shown immediate improvement in his forward bite.

Annett again set his pace and waited for his car to come to life, while others were burning theirs up. He locked into a battle with Spencer Gallagher, Jones and Reed for 16th, and by lap 189 he took the spot from Ryan Sieg. That left Reed as the next target, and Annett was within five lengths when the caution waved yet again on lap 218. After reporting that his car was way too tight while off the gas, Mack took a big swing with adjustments on the final stop to help Annett get through the center. After a quick stop that gained a spot on pit road, Annett was hit with a speeding penalty in Section 11, near the end of pit road. That meant he had to start at the tail of the field with just 25 laps left in the 250-lap race.

Annett took the penalty and fired off at the rear, only to have the caution wave one lap later. That gained valuable ground for the Pilot Flying J driver, and he made good use of it. Restarting 16th with 14 laps remaining, Annett passed Gallagher with 10 to go and stalked Custer, who was involved in the last caution, into the final lap before pulling off the pass and finishing 14th.

Michael Annett Quote: “That was a pretty good run for us tonight. We got it dialed in for the final stage and were just letting the guys who used up their stuff come to us, and then we got that speeding penalty on our final stop. The changes that Travis Mack and the guys made were good, and we were able to maintain. It’s all about building right now; we’ll take what we learned here and use it these next six races.”

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.