Michael Annett drove a heady race in Saturday’s Zippo 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series event on the storied road course at Watkins Glen, taking his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a solid eighth-place finish in the 82-lap event. The result was Annett’s best in eight starts on the 2.45-mile layout and ninth top-10 finish in the last 11 NXS races overall. It was as well the best road-course finish for the Iowa driver since a runner-up result in 2017 at Road America.

Annett started the race from 14th position and on the second lap ran through a lot of grass kicked up by an off-course excursion ahead of him. Heading down pit road on lap 3, the Pilot Flying J team cleaned the grille and topped Annett off with fuel before sending him back out in 34th position. Biding his time, Annett was 28th on lap 10 when the first caution of the day waved. Coming to pit road on lap 12, Annett took four fresh tires and fuel and began the familiar litany of saving fuel for the end.

Returning to the track in 27th, Annett gained six spots in the next few circuits to run 21st and was 15th with five laps remaining in the 20-lap Stage One. He ended the stage in 18th and stayed out on the break. That shot Annett and the No. 1 up to 11th place for the restart. During Stage Two, Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that his car was lacking lateral grip most everywhere, and Mack responded by bringing his driver in on lap 34 for four more tires and fuel six laps from the end of the stage. On the stop, the team was penalized for coming over the wall too early and that dropped the No. 1 back to 25th for the restart. Putting his head down, Annett gained nine positions over the final four laps under green and finished Stage Two in 16th position.

Entering the final 42-lap stage, Annett again stayed out for track position and began the run in 10th spot. He lost a couple of positions in the first two laps, being in the middle of a lot of hard racing. Green-flag pit stops began at lap 50, and Annett moved all the way up to sixth before coming down pit road again on lap 54 for fuel and adjustments. That dropped him to 22nd position, but as with the previous stop, Annett gained six spots over the next eight laps to run 14th.

Five laps later, an accident in Turn 1 brought out the caution flag and Mack again called Annett to the pits for his last set of air-pressure-adjusted Goodyear Eagles. Returning to the track in 12th place, Annett narrowly avoided a huge accident in Turn 1 on the ensuing restart, sliding to the inside of a spinning Justin Haley and advancing to the top 10. Over the final seven laps of green-flag racing, Annett immediately picked up a position to ninth and held off JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson to the finish line. At the end of the race, Annett advanced to eighth place when a disqualification occurred ahead of him in the field.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “That was a pretty good run today for the No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, and we got our best finish here at Watkins Glen, which is awesome. We were decent all day, but we struggled with lateral grip the whole race. Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) made some good adjustments and we had solid pit strategy, getting back out late in the race with new tires. We gained positions on that stop and that set us up for the last run with a good chance for a top finish. We needed to keep the momentum going and this is the way to do it.”

 

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.