Michael Annett Daytona Recap

With seven laps remaining in Friday night’s Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway, Michael Annett had positioned himself solidly inside top 10 and was poised for a run to the checkered flag. But without solid drafting help to mount a charge, the No. 5 Pilot Flying J team brought home a stout 11th-place finish.

After rain washed out the day’s qualifying session, Annett took the start of the race in 17th and firmly settled into a position among the top 20 through the opening laps of Stage One. As the leaders broke away into a single-file line at the front of the field at the stage’s halfway point, Annett radioed the crew that the Pilot Flying J entry was “all over the splitter”, a handling issue that negated his ability to be aggressive behind the wheel.

Crew chief Jason Stockert took that information and called Annett to pit road four laps prior to the conclusion of Stage One for a strategic two-tire stop. Had it played out according to plan, the stop would have netted multiple positions on the track once the lead pack’s pit stops cycled through. Unfortunately for the team, they elected to come back to the pits under the stage-ending caution and take a bigger swing at Annett’s handling issues.

Annett restarted Stage Two in 33rd and moved right back inside the top 17, commenting that the crew’s changes made the Pilot Flying J Chevy “definitely better”. He rode steady and jockeyed several positions in the nuances of the draft, ending Stage Two in 18th.

Things got dicey for the No. 5 team when Annett was forced to avoid a pair of major accidents in the race’s final stage that had him using every inch of the racing surface in an effort to emerge unscathed. The biggest hurdle came during a massive multi-car pileup that saw Annett weaving around wrecking cars and narrowly avoid contact with a spinning Daniel Hemric. His evasive maneuvers allowed the team to take the ensuing restart in 10th with 13 laps remaining.

During the final laps, the No. 5 Pilot Flying J entry was in position to make a charge to the front of the pack. But lacking solid drafting help from his peers, and hampered in three-wide racing, Annett slipped to 13th by the time the race was forced into overtime. He kept focus over the final two laps to earn back two positions and claim 11th, marking the team’s season-best finish.

Michael Annett Quote: “Daytona is always a little bit of a wild-card race that can go either way sometimes. I’m glad our Pilot Flying J team was able to come out of here with an 11th-place finish tonight. Jason (Stockert, crew chief) and the crew did a good job making the necessary changes to get the car’s handling more manageable for the conditions we had. We stayed out of trouble and didn’t get caught up in anyone else’s wrecks tonight. We’ll take this finish and look to build on it next week at Kentucky.”

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 in 44 states, Roadside assistance available at over 145 locations nationwide and growing as part of its Truck Care program, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers, and 34 Boss Shops. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 72,000 parking spaces for trucks with Prime Parking at more than 400 locations, 5,200 deluxe showers and more than 6,200 diesel lanes with 5,200 offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump. Pilot Flying J is currently ranked No. 15 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. Visit www.pilotflyingj.com for more information.