Michael Annett Daytona Race Report

Michael Annett was sitting in a great position Saturday afternoon with two laps to go in the rain-delayed Firecracker 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars when a crash next to him in the pack ended his chance at victory. As the pack swarmed toward Turn 3 on lap 99, Brandon Jones’ car broke loose in the high line and hit the wall. Annett, running seventh in the low line, had nowhere to go as Jones came off the wall and hooked the right rear of the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro.

Annett was turned up the track and into the side of JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier as more than 11 cars were involved in the crash. Annett spun down the track and into the infield with heavy damage and could not drive it back to the pit area. He wound up 33rd in the final rundown.

After the race was red-flagged on Friday and postponed to Saturday, Annett began the race in ninth place, only to fall back in the early laps due to the splitter hitting the track in Turns 1 and 2. When the red flag waved for rain after 11 laps, he was 16th, and that’s where he started on Saturday. A quick dip onto pit road under yellow at lap 12 gave him fuel to last to the end of the first stage, but put him 34th for the restart. By lap 15, he was 23rd, and spotter Kevin Hamlin advised him to throttle back and run near the end of the pack. He was 30th at the end of the first stage, and stayed out to gain track position for the run to the end of the second stage.

Annett started the second stage on the front row beside Allgaier, but dropped to eighth as the pack shook itself out. Soon after, at lap 37, lightning and rain came again and the race was red-flagged for another two and a half hours.

When the race restarted, Annett stayed near the middle of the pack and was 17th when the yellow came out at lap 51 for a multi-car crash on the front straightaway. Crew chief Jason Stockert called Annett down pit road three laps later for four tires, fuel to the end and adjustments to perfect the handling on the Pilot Flying J Camaro.

The second stage ended at lap 60 and Annett stayed out, vaulting up to fourth for the restart. He stayed around the top eight the rest of the way. He settled into second behind teammate William Byron, pushing and protecting for several laps until Byron had to block a run on the high side, and Annett dropped to eighth as the pack moved back and forth. Yellow flags with 15 laps remaining and eight laps to go slowed the action, but Annett lined up fifth for the restart with four laps to go and wound up in the accident triggered by Jones two laps later.

JRM teammate Byron won the race, his second straight triumph, and JRM’s Elliott Sadler was second. Dakoda Armstrong was third, followed by Jeb Burton and David Starr.

Michael Annett, driver No. 5 Pilot Flying J team: “We were so close...we had such a great Pilot Flying J Chevrolet today, and it didn’t end the way it could have. We were racing in the pack, everybody was pushing and all of a sudden, I’m sideways in front of the field. I was a little concerned for Justin (Allgaier) because that was a heck of a hit he took, but he drove away. This is another one of those situations where we did everything right and got into a good position for the end of the race only to have it not work out like we wanted. We’ll go on to Kentucky and see if we can turn this luck around.”

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