Michael Annett drove the No. 1 Pilot Flying J “Thank You Veterans” Chevrolet Camaro to an 11th-place finish in Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Texas Motor Speedway. That means the Iowa native and his No. 1 team will know exactly what needs to be done next week at ISM Raceway to advance to the Championship 4 two weeks hence.

Starting 19th for the 200-lap event, Annett wasted little time moving forward on the 1.5-mile track. In just four laps, Annett had passed five cars to run 14th, and by lap 15 he was 13th. As the field separated itself, Annett kept moving forward and eventually ran 11th with 13 laps remaining in the 45-lap Stage One. He finished there and told crew chief Travis Mack that his car was really good off the wall but needed front turn to move further forward. Mack gave his driver four fresh tires and fuel and made an air-pressure adjustment, sending him back out in the same position.

For Stage Two, Annett ran in the top 12 until the yellow flag waved for a crash on the front straightaway with 10 laps remaining. While some of the lead group pitted to beat the Stage Two break, Mack kept Annett on the track, which advanced him to seventh place for the restart, which took place five laps from the end of the stage. On the green flag, Annett got away well, but action in the pack in front of him broke his momentum and the lead cars swarmed, dropping him to 13th at the green checkered flag.

Pitting for four tires and fuel on the break, Annett returned to the track in 16th position for the restart. Gaining three positions in the first three laps of the final stage, Annett looked poised to make a run into the top 10 and did so at lap 114, passing Ross Chastain for 10th. Annett was still in 10th on lap 128 when the caution flag waved for a crash in Turn 2, and Mack made his second gamble of the night by calling Annett to pit road for four tires and all the fuel that the No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet could hold. As Annett left pit road, Mack told his driver to save fuel at every opportunity and even brought him down again with one lap to go before the green flag to top off the tank again.

The ensuing restart was a wild one, and Annett got caught in a pack of cars, losing four spots in short order. Another yellow waved at lap 141, which allowed Mack to play another strategy card by keeping Annett on the track at the very edge of the fuel window. That put the No. 1 Pilot Flying J machine on the outside of the front row for the restart in second place. Another yellow, this time for JRM teammate Noah Gragson’s incident on the front straightaway on lap 150, saw Annett sixth in the order. NASCAR put out the red flag for cleanup, and Annett stayed on the track in sixth for the restart with 44 laps remaining. Another wild restart saw Annett lose four spots to 10th and when the caution came out at lap 162, Annett told Mack his car was on top of the track. Mack brought Annett down pit road three laps later for four tires, fuel to the end and an adjustment. When the green flag waved again with 30 laps remaining, Annett was 18th, and he drove to 11th over the next eight laps. He could not advance any farther over the remaining distance and finished 11th at the checkered flag. The result leaves Annett and the No. 1 team sixth in series points, 28 points below the cut line for the Championship 4 heading into next week’s determining race on the 1-mile ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz.

Michael Annett Quote: “We will know our goal next week when we get to Phoenix. We are still sixth in points and we have a path to Miami, so we’ll have to capitalize on everything to get there. Our Pilot Flying J “Thank You Veterans” Chevrolet was good all night, but track position wasn’t in our favor. We have a chance to move on at Phoenix and we just have to make sure we do.”

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