With all that Michael Annett and the No. 1 Pilot Flying J team had to deal with during Saturday’s Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway, an eighth-place finish at the end of the NASCAR Xfinity Series event feels something like a victory. A restart violation early in Stage One caused the first setback, and the appeal of a speeding penalty on pit road during the Stage Two stop fell on deaf ears. That put the 32-year-old Iowa native back in the field with the fires lit.

Restarting 23rd with 44 laps remaining, Annett put his No. 1 Chevrolet on a rail and climbed 10 spots in the first four laps around the 2.5-mile oval to run 13th. By lap 64 he was back in the top 10 as cars ahead of him began to make their final pit stops and he was second on lap 83 when he came down for his four-tire stop to the end. Exiting in 14th spot with the field spread out all over the track, Annett needed a caution flag to get back in the mix. He got it with seven laps remaining when Jeffrey Earnhardt spun off the nose of Austin Cindric.

Restarting in sixth spot with two laps to go in the 100-lap event, Annett avoided a spin by JRM teammate Justin Allgaier in Turn 1, which set up the final overtime restart on lap 101. Rolling off fifth, Annett broke toward Turn 1 with the top of the field pushing and shoving, getting popped out of the low groove at the exit of the corner, and was eighth under the white flag. The final lap saw Annett pushing Cindric for seventh spot, but he fell just short.

The day began in stellar fashion for the No. 1 team, as Annett qualified on the outside of Row 2 for the event. On the initial start, Annett maintained station in the top five before Brandon Jones’ machine snapped around in front of him exiting Turn 1 on the sixth lap to bring out the first caution flag of the day. The second came out three laps after the green waved for an accident on the Long Pond Straight, and on the ensuing restart, Annett was on the front row alongside Cole Custer. When the top two cars reached the start/finish line, the nose of the No. 1 Chevrolet was slightly ahead of Custer’s No. 00, and NASCAR tagged him for a violation. Originally, the penalty was a pass-through of pit road, but a spin brought out a caution flag before he could serve it. Annett pitted on lap 18, taking four tires and fuel, and returned to the track in 31st spot after serving a tail-of-the-field penalty instead. He finished Stage One in 26th position.

At the end of Stage One, the remainder of the cars who had not yet come to pit road did so, and that meant Annett moved all the way up to fifth for the restart. Annett stayed in the second half of the top five for the rest of the 25-lap stage, finishing seventh at the end of it. On the pit stop, Annett came down for four tires, fuel and adjustments to air pressure and the chassis, picking up two positions to fifth in the process. But on the way down to his pit stall, John Hunter Nemechek was buried in the back of Annett’s car, which caused Annett’s car to exceed the speed limit. Despite the best arguments of crew chief Travis Mack, NASCAR upheld the penalty and sent a furious Annett to 23rd instead, triggering the mission to get back to the front.

The finish was Annett’s third straight top-10 result and eighth of the season in 12 races, and moved him up one spot to ninth in the NXS point standings. Annett is already qualified for the NXS Playoffs with his victory at Daytona in the season opener.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “It was a pretty up-and-down day for us and the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Had a great run in qualifying, Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) gave me a really fast Camaro all weekend, and we had things going our way until we got called for the restart violation. Made up for that with some good strategy, and then got called for speeding on pit road, which is kind of easy to do when the car behind you is pushing you hard. We recovered again, and to still get a top-eight finish after going to the back twice kind of tells you that we’re running pretty good right now.”

 

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.