Michael Annett Richmond Recap

Michael Annett had plenty of optimism heading into the final stage on Friday night at Richmond Raceway, but those hopes were dashed on lap 166 when he was collected in a five-car crash on the front straightaway of the .75-mile oval. Contact in the middle of it damaged the right front fender on his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet and cost him any chance at a better finish. Fighting handling troubles over the remaining distance in the 250-lap race, Annett was classified 20th at the finish.

After qualifying ninth—his best start of the season since a seventh-place effort at the season opener in Daytona--Annett and crew chief Jason Stockert were hopeful of improving on their solid run at Bristol the week before. The 31-year-old Iowa native moved to seventh by the end of the first lap, but was stuck on the bottom groove and fell to 10th soon after when he reported that his entry into Turn 3 was getting freer. He was 16th when the caution waved for a spin on lap 64, and Stockert brought his driver down pit road to change tires before the Stage One break. That put him 21st for the restart, but would help him for Stage Two.

When the stage ended six laps later. Annett had finished 17th. He stayed on the track while the majority of the field pitted and restarted on the front row for the 75-lap Stage Two. By lap 104, however, he was eighth, still fighting for track position when Cole Custer got tight on the low line and door-slammed Annett’s machine off Turn 2. That dropped Annett to 12th, and the forward bite on his Chevrolet was fading fast. He finished Stage Two in 15th place, two spots better than he finished Stage One.

On the ensuing pit stop for tires and fuel, Annett came off pit road in 15th and started the final stage there with an eye on jumping toward the top 10. The front-stretch accident four laps later ended those hopes, and Annett was forced back down pit road to fix the damage and change right-side tires. He stopped one more time on that caution and rejoined the field in 23rd, the last car on the lead lap. Annett was battling to maintain position midway through that run when a lapped car got loose in front of him off Turn 2 and he made contact on the right front, which added more handling difficulties. Fighting the damaged car, Annett went a lap down to the leader with 38 to go, but rallied to 20th on lap 230. That was where he finished. Despite the bad luck, Annett gained two spots to 14th in the NXS driver point standings, just 39 points out of the Playoffs.

Michael Annett Quote: “It just wasn’t our night. We pitted before the end of Stage One to give us track position and had a good chance of making up some ground in Stage Two, and we were in decent shape heading into the final stage. Then we got caught up in that accident and just didn’t have anywhere to go. It messed up the right front and just made it so we couldn’t advance any farther. Talladega is next week, so we will have a good chance of getting some good points for our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet.”

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