In the waning laps of Saturday’s Alsco 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Michael Annett made a bold move for the top four on the day’s final restart. The move didn’t work as planned, but the Iowa native did pick up five positions in the remaining laps and ended up with his best career finish on the 1.5-mile speedway.

Restarting the race with 15 laps to go from seventh spot, Annett made a lunge on the apron heading toward Turn 1 as the front of the field scattered for position. The car of Cole Custer was on the low line, right where Annett needed to be to avoid a collision, and he was forced to back off, falling back to 11th by the time the melee sorted itself out coming down the back straightaway. Annett gained two spots in the next two laps and was eighth with 12 laps remaining. He gained another spot to seventh with nine to go and took sixth on lap 194 when Custer had to slow after banging the wall in Turn 2. He finished there, just outside the top five. It was his seventh top-10 finish in 11 races so far this season and four spots better than his previous career-best result (10th on two occasions) at Charlotte.

Annett qualified his patriotic Memorial Day-themed Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro in eighth position for the 200-lap event and finished the 45-lap Stage One in the same spot, earning stage points in the process. During the ensuing pit stop, crew chief Travis Mack made an air-pressure adjustment to help a handling condition that saw the front of the car over-rotate and take the rear tires out of the track surface a bit during the run. The Pilot Flying J pit crew gained one spot on the four-tire stop to send Annett back out in seventh place for Stage Two.

Soon after the green flag waved for the start of Stage Two, Annett radioed to Mack that the car needed to be tightened up for restarts. It took nearly 10 laps for the handling to tighten up and Annett had dropped from seventh to 13th in the interim, just in time for a caution to wave for the spinning car of Austin Cindric. On the ensuing restart, Annett’s car remained tight enough to move forward and he regained the top 10 with eight laps remaining in the stage. Two flat tires on rival cars allowed him to finish Stage Two in eighth place for the second time on the day, doubling up on stage points.

Pitting again for tires and a wedge adjustment, the pit crew held serve and sent the Iowa driver back out for the remaining laps in eighth place. A quick caution balked the proceedings for a few laps and on the next restart, Annett was caught in a wild scrum that saw him drop to 14th the first time past the flag stand. After moving up three spots, Annett settled down and began climbing back through the field. He rejoined the top 10 on lap 137 after passing Ryan Sieg and got the chance to come back down pit road four laps later when Jeffrey Earnhardt’s car spun in Turn 4. Mack adjusted air pressure and added fuel, and the crew gained two spots on the stop to vault Annett to sixth for the restart at lap 147. The changes did the trick and Annett was still sixth when the next caution waved at lap 157. Several of the lead cars pitted for their final sets of sticker Goodyear tires on that stop, and Annett moved up to fourth in the transition.

After getting blocked on the restart, Annett fell to ninth spot and clipped the outside retaining wall at each end of the track with no damage before another caution flag waved at lap 171. That allowed him to come down to take his final set of stickers and he would take the green flag in 14th spot with 24 laps remaining in the 200-lap race. He advanced all the way to eighth in just four laps with the new rubber, and was seventh after another caution flag reset the field with 20 to go. That set up the final restart where Annett charged down the inside into Turn 1.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “We had some good strategy today, and we fought hard for our sixth-place finish. I might have had more than sixth except I lost some track position on that last restart trying to play Evel Knievel. It almost worked, but the 00 car (Cole Custer) waited a little too long to let me back in. That was our first top-10 at Charlotte as a team, and that’s pretty special. Even though we had a couple of weeks off, we were able to maintain our pace and momentum in the Pilot Flying J Memorial Day Chevrolet, and that’s really important for this stretch of the season.”

 

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.