With four laps remaining in Saturday’s Indiana 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michael Annett was in the middle of a late-race hornet’s nest in his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Running as high as seventh with three laps remaining, the Iowa native fell victim to a pack of his opponents down the long backstretch on the 2.5-mile oval and eventually came home in 12th position at the end of the 100-lap event.

Starting 15th at the famed speed plant, Annett stayed in line and got a feel for his Chevrolet over the first 15 laps. In final practice on Friday, Annett was involved in an incident that resulted in damage to the rear bodywork, and his Pilot Flying J team worked long after the session was over to get it right. At lap 15, a caution flag waved for the stalled car of Austin Dillon. Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that his Pilot Flying J machine was trending tighter at the exits of Turns 1 and 2, and Mack brought Annett down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Returning to the track in 20th position, Annett had risen to 16th before another yellow flag came out on lap 24, and that opened the flood gates on pit stops. By the time it shook out, Annett was up to 10th before encountering a handling issue in the three-lap dash to the green-checkered flag to end the 30-lap Stage One. He finished 13th.

Despite stopping 15 laps earlier, Mack called Annett back down pit road on the stage break for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to give him more stability on the right front corner. The Pilot Flying J pit crew performed another fast stop and Annett started Stage Two in 20th position. On the first lap of green-flag racing, Annett gained three positions and missed Brandon Brown’s spin to boot, gaining another position when Christopher Bell was forced to pit with damage. On the ensuing restart, Annett continued to climb the running order, picking his way to 11th by lap 45. With six laps remaining in Stage Two, the tight condition at the south end of the track came back, but despite dropping a couple of spots, he rallied to finish the stage in 11th place.

Mack called for four tires, a track-bar adjustment and further air-pressure adjustments on the Stage Two pit stop, and again, the pit crew gained a spot on the exchange to put Annett back in the top 10. As the final 34-lap stage got under way, Annett pulled off a three-wide pass off Turn 2 to get to eighth on lap 67, and was running with a pack of cars that traded spots on a lap-by-lap basis. A caution at lap 80 brought Annett to pit road for the final time of the afternoon, for four tires and fuel to the end, and the pit crew gained two more positions to put him ninth for the restart.

Annett stayed in the top 10 for the remainder of the event until the pack caught him up down the backstretch with two laps remaining in the event and he finished a solid 12th on the day. Annett remains eighth in series points and is locked into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, which will start in two weeks at Richmond Raceway.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “We were in a good position there at the end and we just got mobbed. A group of cars came up on us and they had all the momentum. Our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was really fast at times and we could get awesome runs all day, but it is just so hard to finish them and even harder to defend against a line of cars once they get past the rear bumper. It was a good day for us, overall, but it could have been a lot better if not for that last bit of the race.”

 

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.