Michael Annett Daytona Recap

Michael Annett’s day at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday got off to a great start, but his Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race ended in the garage area after a crash with 33 laps remaining. Annett’s Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was caught up in a crash mid-pack as the field exited Turn 4 on lap 106.

After qualifying a stellar seventh, Annett ran much of the day in the top 10 and spent considerable time in the top five with his JR Motorsports teammates. He was running 12th on lap 98 when Ryan Reed jumped down to block Ryan Truex and sent the latter under the double yellow line. Truex gathered it up, but hit the banking in Turn 3 and chased a couple of cars up the track. One of them hit Annett and sent him to the outside wall, which flattened out the right side of the No. 5 Chevrolet, splitting a fender and cutting down a tire.

Crew chief Jason Stockert called Annett to pit road to fix the damage, changing four tires and cleaning up the bodywork well inside the six-minute crash clock time limit. Annett got back on the track in 29th and was running 19th when Garrett Smithley and Truex tangled over a spot. Annett was punted sideways into a spin through Daytona’s infield grass. The splitter dug into the grass and shattered the front end of the car, ruining the radiator and whatever chance Annett had at a reasonable finish. The damage was too severe to repair inside the time limit and he retired from the race with a 37th-place finish.

Prior to all that, Annett and Stockert, with the help of spotter Kevin Hamlin, had engineered a pretty solid day. After starting seventh—Annett’s best start since a fifth-place effort at Indianapolis last July—Annett advanced to third place inside the first five laps. He stayed in the top 10 over the first stage to finish seventh, earning three stage points. Prior to the start, Annett told his team that he was going to race hard and get every stage point possible, and judging by the first stage of the season, it was a good plan.

Annett told Stockert that the car was too tight to run anywhere but the top, so Stockert gave him four tires and a couple of adjustments on the pit stop, and the Iowa native started Stage Two in 12th. After sorting out the draft for a few laps, Annett reported that the car got tighter right away and just kept going. “I can feel the splitter all the way around the track,” Annett said at the end of the stage. Stockert reset the air pressures and made wedge adjustments for the pit stop and sent Annett back out in 17th.

In the final stage, Annett took off and within 11 laps was challenging for the lead, pushing teammate Elliott Sadler to the lead at one point before getting suckered in the draft and falling to eighth. A caution flag for fluid on the track allowed him to catch his breath, and Stockert called his driver down pit road for fuel only and a couple of adjustments. Annett restarted fifth on lap 87 and was running fourth or fifth for the next several laps until getting pushed out of the middle groove and falling to 14th. He was running eighth on lap 98 before the incident involving Truex put him in a bad position.

JRM rookie Tyler Reddick won the race over teammate Sadler by a NASCAR-record margin of victory (0.000 seconds, finish determined by photo). Reed was third, followed by rookie Kaz Grala and Smithley.

Michael Annett Quote: “Even though we didn’t finish this race, I am excited for what we were able to do today. We qualified well, for starters. We want to earn as many stage points as we can, and we did that in the first stage of the season. We ran in the top five a lot today, and that’s because of the hard work that Jason (crew chief Stockert) and my Pilot Flying J team did over the winter. I was a tight for a good bit of the race, but I could run the top and we were in a solid position for a very good result today.”

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