Friday night’s Alsco 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Kentucky Speedway belonged to the four drivers who have won NXS races so far this season. Michael Annett, winner of the season opener at Daytona in February, drove his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval, finishing behind race winner Cole Custer, second-place Christopher Bell and third-place Tyler Reddick.

For Annett, Friday’s run continued a solid mid-season surge for him and his team. Over the past eight races, Annett has three top-five finishes and seven in the top 10, and his fourth-place effort saw him move up to seventh place in series driver points.

After qualifying 10th for the 200-lap race, Annett gained four positions in the first two laps of green-flag racing and was running sixth three laps later when the first caution flag of the day came out for a crash in Turn 3. Annett reported to crew chief Travis Mack that his Camaro felt good and was very neutral, and once the green flag replaced the yellow, Annett held sway in sixth until lap 34, when Reddick got past off Turn 4. Annett lost seventh to Brandon Jones four laps later as his car began to tighten up, and he ended the 45-lap Stage One in eighth place. Mack called for four tires, fuel, wedge and air-pressure adjustments on the ensuing pit stop at lap 49, and the Pilot Flying J crew got him off pit road without losing a position.

Firing off from eighth for Stage Two, Annett was ninth on lap 56 when Austin Cindric and Justin Haley tangled off Turn 4. Annett reported that something felt off in the front end of his Chevrolet, and Mack brought him back down pit road the next time by for more tires and to top it off with fuel. That seemed to fix the problem, and Annett returned to the track in 16th spot. Over the next several laps, Annett was on the move, rising to 10th place before the caution flag waved again at lap 68. Restarting in ninth, Annett passed Riley Herbst for eighth with eight laps left in Stage Two and got by JRM teammate Ryan Truex three laps later for seventh spot, where he finished five laps later.

Heading back down pit road to the attention of his pit crew, Annett took four tires and fuel and came out one position better than when he came in. That set him up for a run at the top five, and nine laps later, the Iowa native swept to fifth position. At lap 133 Reddick, who had been shaving tenths of a second off his deficit, got past off Turn 4 when lapped cars running two-wide balked Annett’s line down the front straightaway. Soon after that, Annett reported that the handle on his No. 1 machine had gone to the tight side during a long green-flag run. At lap 153, Annett came down pit road—still under green and from second place--for his final stop and Mack put four more tires on with adjusted air pressures and added fuel to the end, sending his driver back out in sixth position. Annett reported that the car was really free over the first few laps of the run, but settled down as the laps wore on. At lap 159, Annett took over fifth place but was still a bit edgy with his handling. Mack told his driver that even though he wasn’t comfortable, the lap times were going down. On laps 166 and 167, Annett was the fastest car on the track and began taking chunks of time out of fourth-place Chase Briscoe’s lead.

With 25 to go, Annett trailed fourth place by .741 seconds. At lap 180, he was within .139 seconds and the next time by, he took fourth place from the young Indiana driver. Annett would finish the race there 19 laps later.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “That was a good, solid run for the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet tonight. We qualified in the top 10, finished in the top four and had no major problems all night long. Tonight was one of the better runs we’ve had all year. Man, this No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro was fast tonight. We had good strategy, our pit crew guys had a great weekend and Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) gave me both a solid car and good strategy. It was kind of cool that the four drivers who have won races finished in the top four tonight. Now all we have to do is move up to the front of that group. Another good run on a 1.5-mile track, too.”

 

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.