Michael Annett Homestead Race Report

Michael Annett drove to a ninth-place finish in Saturday night’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the same night that JR Motorsports teammate William Byron clinched the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. It was Annett’s best finish since a second-place run at Road America and his seventh top-10 result of the season.

Byron, who finished third in the race, topped teammates Elliott Sadler (eighth) and Justin Allgaier (12th) in the battle for the title, making JRM the first team in series history to place drivers in the top three spots in the standings. With his finish, Annett took over ninth place in the final standings, giving JRM all four cars in the top nine in points for the season.

Starting 18th, Annett took off well and advanced two spots in the first five laps, but the Pilot Flying J Camaro was free all around the track for the remainder of Stage One. Annett, who ended the first 45-lap stage in 20th, said that the car got looser as the run went on, and when he came down pit road for the first time, crew chief Jason Stockert had four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments ready for him. The pit crew picked up four spots on the stop for Annett, and he restarted in 16th spot.

In Stage Two, Annett picked up where he began the race, advancing to 14th by altering his line around the 1.5-mile oval. On lap 73, Annett told Stockert he needed more front turn in the car while racing with Ben Kennedy and Matt Tifft, both of whom eventually got past before the end of Stage Two. Annett took the green checkered in 16th place, exactly where he started it.

For the final 104-lap run to the checkered flag, Stockert gave his driver four more tires, fuel and a slight wedge adjustment, and the pit crew ripped off another good stop to put him 13th for the lap-97 restart. Annett ran in the top 15 as the laps ticked by toward a potential pit stop for the end of the race. Stockert aimed to bring his driver to pit road before the 50-to-go mark, and Annett reported that his car needed a little bit more rear grip to move forward.

Annett hit pit road under green-flag conditions—there were no caution flags over the final 104 laps—on lap 142 for four tires, fuel to the end and no adjustments. He rejoined a lap down in 19th place, and as green-flag stops continued to cycle, Annett found himself 11th with 52 laps remaining in the race. He continued there until leader and eventual race winner Cole Custer put him a lap down on lap 169. Annett continued to click off solid laps, eventually getting into the top 10 with 15 laps remaining. He gained one more spot over the remaining laps to finish ninth.

Michael Annett, driver, No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet: “That was a good way to go into the offseason. We fought hard all day long and got to the top 10 late in the race. Our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was pretty consistent, for the most part. We were free to start with and stayed there, but Jason (crew chief Jason Stockert) made some really good changes, and Hamlin (spotter Kevin Hamlin) called a good race to get us up where we could gain ground. The pit crew was really good all day, great stops and got us spots every time. Proud of everybody on this race team.”

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