In the final race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ regular season, Michael Annett and the No 1 Pilot Flying J team finished 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. When the NXS Playoffs begin next weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Annett and the No. 1 team will begin the seven-race stretch as the No. 7 seed.

Starting from 11th position for the 200-lap Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 on the 1.5-mile oval, Annett gained two spots on the initial start to run eighth before moving up another two positions to sixth inside the first 10 laps. Over the remaining 39 laps in Stage One, Annett held position in the top 10 and finished ninth at the green-checkered flag. Annett reported to crew chief Travis Mack on the stage break that he got very loose with about 10 laps remaining and had difficulty maintaining his free roll through the corners of the desert oval. That made it difficult to get back to the gas off the all-important Turn 4. Mack responded with four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment to help him get onto the front straightaway better.

Rolling off ninth for the 45-lap Stage Two, Annett settled into 11th after the initial rush at the green flag and ran there until four laps remained in the stage. The Iowa native passed JRM teammate Noah Gragson for 10th on that lap and held it to the finish, doubling up on stage points for the day. On the break before the 110-lap final stage, Annett told Mack that he had the lateral grip he needed, which allowed him to run the preferred top groove much earlier in the stage. Mack made an air-pressure adjustment to help that, along with adding four more Goodyear Eagles and fuel. The Pilot Flying J pit crew turned in a blazing stop and picked up two positions for the final run.

Starting eighth for the final stage, which began on lap 98, Annett held serve in the top 10 and was running 10th at lap 112 when the caution flag waved for a spin off Turn 4. Annett told Mack that his Chevrolet started the run tighter and was building that way, which meant that he wasn’t gaining on the cars ahead. Mack elected to bring Annett down pit road for more tires and fuel at lap 113, and once again, the pit crew banged out a stellar stop and gained three positions for Annett. That put him seventh for the restart, but a penalty on a driver ahead of him advanced him to sixth. A solid restart put Annett fifth the first time past the flag stand, and he battled heavy traffic until lap 129, when the caution waved again for another Turn 4 crash. Sitting seventh in the order and way short of being able to make it to the end on fuel, Mack elected to leave Annett on the track.

When the action resumed, Annett raced in the top 10 until lap 157, when the tight condition returned to the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Over the next 12 laps, Annett fell to 13th before coming down pit road for his final set of tires and fuel to the end. Rejoining the race a lap down in 19th place, Annett kept digging and moving up the running order, taking 13th place from Justin Haley with 14 laps remaining in the race and finishing there at the checkered.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “We were just a little tight in the last stage and couldn’t defend all that well. The Pilot Flying J team, crew chief Travis Mack and the guys, have given me really fast Camaros all year long and we had our moments today. It was a great day in the pits too; those guys had a great day and gained some positions. The playoffs are here and we are going to turn it up and go get them.”

 

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.