At the end of 56 laps on Saturday on the 3.61-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway, Michael Annett persevered for a 15th-place finish in the Super Start Batteries 188 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines. Annett drove the Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet from 33rd at the start, overcoming several issues along the way. Stage One Finish: 21st After starting 33rd based on last week’s finish on the oval at Daytona, Annett spent the first few laps sorting out the handle on the No. 1 Chevrolet. Once the green flag waved, Annett moved up three positions by the time the first lap was complete, and he was still there three laps later when the first caution of the day came out. Under caution, Annett told crew chief Mike Bumgarner that his car was twitchy on the oval portion of the 3.61-mile course, and that he couldn’t carry speed into the corners the way he needed. With more than 10 laps remaining to the end of the 15-lap Stage One, Bumgarner decided to leave Annett out during the caution and bide his time. It wasn’t long before another caution flag waved on lap 12, and Bumgarner called Annett to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to fix the twitchiness on the oval sections. With just two laps remaining in the stage at the green flag, Annett gained seven positions over that span to finish Stage One in 21st position. Having stopped earlier, Annett stayed on track during the Stage One break. Stage Two Finish: 21st By virtue of when he pitted, Annett rolled off from ninth position at the beginning of Stage Two, but another problem cropped up in the first couple of laps. Annett radioed to Bumgarner that he was having trouble with the upshift in the corners, and it was affecting his ability to both get in and out of gear. By lap 21, Annett had dropped to 18th position, and four laps later was scored in 22nd spot. The problem stabilized at that point, and Annett was able to pick off one spot to finish Stage Two in 21st position. Back on pit road, Bumgarner gave his driver four fresh tires, fuel and made chassis adjustments at both ends of the car. The Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association pit crew gained two positions in the order and Annett went back out in 19th for the start of the final stage. Final Stage: Annett took the green flag in 19th place and maintained that position over the first five laps of the run before another caution flag waved at lap 39. After some discussion, Bumgarner decided to keep Annett on the track and wait for another opportunity to make adjustments. Several other teams did not, and Annett advanced to 14th in the order for the restart at lap 41. The second lap after the restart, the Iowa native missed the turn-in to the backstretch chicane, forcing him to come to a stop before proceeding. That dropped him to 25th in the order, and Annett told Bumgarner that his tires were wearing out. On lap 51, one lap before the scheduled distance, the caution flag waved again and Bumgarner was able to get his driver to pit road for some relief with four tires and a splash of fuel to the end. It also pushed the event into overtime. As the race restarted, Annett took the green flag in 27th position, but was able to gain ground when the field jammed up in Turn 1 and all the way to Turn 3 before the caution waved again for multiple cars off the track. Annett restarted from 20th position on the next attempt and barely missed a wild sequence which saw several cars spin and go off the track. By the time the field was squared away for what turned out to be the final restart, Annett was 17th, and he gained two spots over the final distance to earn a 15th-place finish. That helped ease the pain from being crashed out of the season opener on the oval at Daytona the week before in terms of points. The top-15 result saw Annett rise seven positions to 27th in the series points after two races. Ty Gibbs won the race over Austin Cindric, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones and Jeb Burton.
“That was hard work tonight. I have to do a couple of things better, and we’ll sit down and talk about it at the shop and get some things worked out. Proud of my team and the way they kept fighting all night long. We stopped a little bit of the bleeding as far as points go, and we’ll get better next week.” - Michael Annett