Michael Annett Kentucky Recap

Michael Annett’s run in the Alsco 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines on Friday night ran the gamut of emotions, from delight at leading laps and running solidly near the top 10 to frustration at losing a chance to spend a lot of time in the top five. When the checkered flag waved at the end of 200 laps, the Iowa native had driven his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a solid 15th-place finish at Kentucky Speedway.

After qualifying 17th, Annett was on the move early in Stage One, picking up three spots on the initial lap and another on the second to run 13th. He stayed in that spot until Stage One ended, holding off eventual winner Christopher Bell for it after the latter was forced to start from the rear after a spin in qualifying. On the break, Annett told crew chief Jason Stockert that all was good with his Chevrolet except for an inability to get back to the gas off Turn 4 as quickly as he’d like. It would be a theme the rest of the evening.

When Stage Two got under way, Ty Majeski started from the outside of the front row after taking two tires on his pit stop. That lasted until Turn 2, when he got loose and slapped the wall. Annett, who restarted 15th, gained a spot as Majeski slowed, and climbed as high as 11th as the stage wore on. But the problems in Turns 3 and 4 hadn’t gone totally away, and by the end of Stage Two, Annett, who finished 13th in the second stage as well, told Stockert that the free roll in Turn 3 was killing him in the center on that end. Stockert made a wedge adjustment along with air pressure and sent him back out in 15th place.

After gaining a spot on the first lap of green-flag racing, the pace was slowed by a spinning Blake Jones on lap 100. Four laps later, Annett barely missed a spinning Brandon Jones and managed to pick up two spots in the process to 12th. By lap 132, when Majeski spun through the front straightaway, Stockert called Annett to pit road for two tires and fuel in an effort to gain track position. It worked, as Annett was scored the leader off pit road for the restart on lap 139.

Choosing the low line for the restart, Annett got a good jump and led into Turn 1, but by the exit of Turn 2 he had a car to his outside and it sucked the rear end of the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet around. The wiggle cost Annett 12 spots on the track, which put the team right back to where they’d been at the end of Stage Two, and Annett reported that the car had gone very loose. A caution waved soon after, on lap 148, and Stockert called Annett down pit road to put on the left-side tires from the last stop and make a track-bar adjustment.

The newer tires altered the entry characteristics of Annett’s machine and he reported that it was still very loose. After a battle with Joey Gase that ended when Gase spun out in Turn 3 on lap 162, Annett came back down for his final set of tires on lap 163 and returned to the track in 14th. Annett gained two spots in the early laps, but fell back to 18th with 30 laps remaining. He was 16th and chasing Ryan Sieg for position with 15 to go, finally making the pass with five laps remaining. He was closing on Ty Dillon for 14th when the checkered flag waved. The finish shaved two points off his deficit to 12th place in the point standings.

Michael Annett Quote: “We fought all night long to keep our track position, and it worked for a long time. We were pretty good through the first two stages, but it kept sliding the nose off Turn 3 and killing my corner exit. Jason (crew chief Jason Stockert) made it better, but at the beginning of the final stage it just went really, really loose. I couldn’t be aggressive in the corners until the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet tightened up with about 10 laps to go, but it was too late by then. We gained a couple of points and we’ll go to the next one and hopefully gain some more.”

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