Michael Annett drove the No. 1 Pilot Flying J My Rewards Plus Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish after starting 35th in Saturday’s Pit Boss 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines on the majestic Circuit of the Americas. The Iowa native closed well in the final stage of the 46-lap event, the first NXS race held on the 3.410-mile road course just outside Texas’ capital city. Stage One Finish: 18th After a qualifying run that took place in the rain early on race day, Annett started the event deep in the field from 35th position. Prior to the start, crew chief Mike Bumgarner reminded his driver that he could recover from starting in the back and to keep the team apprised of what he needed to move forward. Once the green flag waved, Annett immediately started forward, picking up seven positions to 28th on the first full-speed lap. In two more laps, Annett had risen to 25th while assessing his Pilot Flying J machine’s handling and getting used to the big road course. Following a caution flag, there was a one-lap shootout to end Stage One, and Annett used the restart to advance up to 18th at the green-and-white checkered flag as several drivers took advantage of the early stoppage to hit pit road. On the ensuing pit stop at the end of Stage One, Bumgarner gave his driver four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel and sent him back out in 10th place. Stage Two Finish: 2nd When Stage Two got under way at lap 18, Annett found himself in the midst of a pack of cars battling for position. Into the uphill Turn 1, Annett got shuffled to the outside and lost three spots. Settling into the top 15 as the race reached its halfway point at lap 23, Bumgarner made a strategy call and kept his driver on the track for the final seven laps of Stage Two. Several of the cars ahead of Annett went to pit road before the end of the stage and Annett kept pushing as they did so. He cracked the top 10 in seventh at lap 27, three laps before the scheduled end of Stage Two, and wound up second when the green-and-white checkered flag flew to end it. The finish gained the Iowa native nine valuable stage points and gave him some momentum for the 16-lap final segment. On the stage break, Annett once again came down pit road for four tires and fuel, telling Bumgarner that he had a lot of play in his clutch pedal. After negotiating the stop without difficulty, Annett returned to the race in 17th position. Final Stage: Once the race was back under the green flag, Annett focused on getting back to the top 10. He gained two positions on the first full lap and climbed to 13th by lap 38, locked in a four-car battle that included Brett Moffitt, Myatt Snider and Riley Herbst. He passed Moffitt the next time by the flag stand, and passed Snider on lap 41 to get to 11th. Over the remaining laps, Annett fought to overtake a fading Jeb Burton for 10th, but fell short by the time the checkered flag waved. The 11th-place finish was a solid effort and bolstered his position in the points after 11 races. Kyle Busch won the race, with AJ Allmendinger second and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier a strong third. Kevin Harvick was fourth and Austin Cindric fifth. Harrison Burton was sixth, with Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley and Jeb Burton the rest of the top 10.
“We did a good job today as a group, and big thanks to this Pilot Flying J My Rewards Plus team. I really wanted a top-10 finish here today, but I used up my stuff late in the race trying to catch the 10 car (Burton). The pit crew did a great job on pit road, gaining us a lot of track position and the spotters did a great job keeping me aware of what was going on. It was a good day for us overall and in the points.” - Michael Annett