Michael Annett Phoenix Race Report

All during the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Michael Annett and his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet team have focused on putting a complete race weekend together, and on Saturday at Phoenix Raceway, they put another one in the books. Annett qualified 12th and finished 16th in the Ticket Galaxy 200 on the 1-mile oval, and is just two points out of ninth place in the points heading into the season finale next weekend

The solid start—Annett’s best since Indianapolis in July--nearly didn’t matter, as Brendan Gaughan got loose underneath Annett’s No. 5 Chevrolet heading into Turn 3 on the opening lap. Gaughan’s car broadsided Annett’s, doing some damage to the left side door and fender panels, but the damage was minor enough that Annett did not have to come to pit road. He did, however, lose seven spots trying to miss the aftermath and wound up dropping three more spots on the first lap back to green when some of the bodywork caught on the left front tire.

Following a caution flag for another crash, Annett put his head down and started clicking off spots. He restarted 18th on lap 30, and over the next 20 laps he worked his way to 14th. Annett would add one more spot before the end of Stage One to finish 13th. Annett reported that his car was tight in the center of the corners and loose off, but decided against changing much because his car seemed to gain grip as the run went on, rather than lose it as most of the rest of the field was doing. Crew chief Jason Stockert called his driver to pit road for four tires and fuel, with only air-pressure adjustments built in. JRM’s regular pit crews were not able to make the race due to an aircraft issue en route, and the replacement crew held serve for Annett, getting him two spots on pit road to put him 11th for the Stage Two restart.

Annett took off well on lap 68, but lost a spot to teammate William Byron on the initial break. He would lose a couple more when his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet turned “wrecking loose.” By lap 90, however, the car came back to life and he was 13th in the order. He finished Stage Two in 12th spot.

After pitting for four more tires and fuel with minimal adjustments, Annett headed back out in 13th spot for the final 74-lap run to the checkered. Annett started the final segment very loose again, dropping to 18th by lap 149. He clawed back two spots by lap 178 to run 16th and Gaughan crashed with 21 laps to go to give Stockert one more shot at adjustments for the final run. Four more Goodyear Eagles, three seconds of fuel and a slight air-pressure adjustment later, Annett rolled back on track in 16th. He briefly held 15th spot, but settled into 16th for the final 17 laps to finish there.

Michael Annett, driver, No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet: “We qualified better than we have lately, and that was a good start today. We were able to stay strong throughout the longer runs, and when we made changes they made the car better. The last run, on that late caution flag, we just got too tight to move up. The car would start out a run really, really free and then it would tighten up and we could make time. Our team has one more shot at it this year next weekend, and we’re going to go down to Miami and do even better.”

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.