Everything seemed to be falling into place for Michael Annett on Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Iowa driver had the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet in fifth place with 87 laps remaining in the Food City 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars on the .533-mile concrete oval when he got loose off Turn 4. After dropping to eighth place in just three laps, Annett snapped loose in the middle of Turn 2 and slapped the outside wall with what turned out to be a flat right rear tire.

After getting to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, Annett came back around for damage assessment on the rear bodywork of his machine, and ended up losing a lap to the leaders. That put him 13th for the restart at lap 229, just one spot behind Timmy Hill for the free pass. The rest of the race played out with just one more caution period, and Annett rallied to earn a ninth-place finish after 300 laps. It was the 10th top-10 finish in the last 13 races for the Pilot Flying J team, and Annett’s third straight top-10 at Bristol.

After starting 15th, Annett held station for the first 37 laps until the first big crash of the night—which involved several of the top cars in the field. The attrition allowed Annett to crack the top 10, and several laps later, he advanced to seventh place as others pitted in front of him. On lap 72, 13 laps short of the Stage One finish, another yellow flag waved for debris and Annett climbed to the top five. Justin Haley had mechanical problems before the end and that put Annett fourth when the green checkered flag waved over the field at the end of the 85-lap Stage One.

Annett relayed to crew chief Travis Mack that his Camaro was very loose in the center of the corners at both ends, so much so that he had to counter-steer in the middle. Mack responded by putting four tires and fuel in the car and making wedge and track-bar adjustments on the first pit stop of the night. As the cars came off pit road, Annett was scored the leader of lap 88. Exiting pit road in 15th position for Stage Two, Annett surged forward from the get-go, gaining four spots in just seven laps and cracking the top 10 again on lap 103. After another caution flag and a red-flag stoppage, Annett was ninth at lap 125 and finished Stage Two 45 laps later in eighth place, earning stage points for the second time on the night.

Pitting again for tires, fuel and further chassis tweaks, Annett emerged in seventh position for the 121-lap run to the checkered flag, but advanced to fifth place after a penalty and a mechanical issue with cars ahead of him. He maintained fifth position until the right rear tire began to go flat, which eventually led to the spin and wall contact in Turn 2.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “We were just too loose in the center of the corners most of the night in our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, and we had that flat tire there that took us out of contention for the win, but it’s another top-10 finish for this No. 1 Chevrolet. We had a good strategy going and then the flat tire put us in the fence and kind of knocked us around a little. Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) and the crew did a great job getting it fixed and getting us back out there, and we were battling for the free pass until everybody else started going a lap down. Good night in the points for us, and we’ll go to Road America and give it our best shot.”

 

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.