Michael Annett and the No. 1 Pilot Flying J ‘Thank You Veterans’ team raced to an 11th-place finish in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, bringing an end to a tremendous NASCAR Xfinity Series season for them and for JR Motorsports.

Annett, the 33-year-old Iowa native, had his most successful season in the series in 2019, earning his first victory in February at Daytona International Speedway and advancing to the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Along the way, he posted six top-five and 19 top-10 finishes, which tied his career best in the former and set a new personal mark in the latter. He ended the season ninth in series points.

After qualifying 20th for the final 200 laps of the season, Annett began to march toward the front at the wave of the initial green flag. As the first lap went into the books, Annett had gained four positions in the running order, and by the time 27 laps had spun by he was up to 12th. During an early caution, Annett reported to crew chief Travis Mack that his car’s front turn was really good and that the handling was neutral. As another yellow waved at lap 34, Annett was 11th and stayed on the track when several of the cars ahead went to pit road. That put him sixth for the restart, but the cars with new tires swarmed those who stayed out and he wound up 14th at the end of the 45-lap Stage One. Mack called his driver down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, sending him back out one spot better than when he went in.

In Stage Two, Annett needed just five laps to crack the top 10, but cars who pitted again soon swept past. Annett rallied to maintain a spot in the top 10 and gained two more on the final lap of Stage Two when two cars ahead of him tangled off Turn 4. That put him eighth in the rundown for Stage Two and set him up for the longest run of the night to the checkered flag. Mack put four new tires on his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, added fuel and made a chassis adjustment before sending his driver back out to do battle. Annett had asked for more lateral grip to run the top, which is the fast way around the 1.5-mile oval.

Restarting ninth, Annett gained two spots on the initial lap of green, but settled in to the top 12 for the remainder of the race, finally finishing 11th, one lap down to the leaders’ torrid pace. The chassis adjustment turned Annett’s handling to the loose side and he carried it to the finish.

 

Michael Annett Quote: “We fought hard all day long. For some reason, we got really loose there at the end when we put wedge in it, which shouldn’t really happen. It didn’t make sense. This has been a great season, and this No. 1 Pilot Flying J team did some great things all year long. I have to thank Travis Mack, my crew chief, and the rest of our team at JR Motorsports for making this a special year. We are going to start working on 2020 next week, but we had a great year and I can’t thank them enough.”

 

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