Michael Annett’s streak of consecutive top-10 finishes may have been broken last week in Daytona, but the Iowa driver wasted no time in starting another one on Saturday at Dover International Speedway. Annett guided his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in the first of two 200-lap NASCAR Xfinity Series events on the Monster Mile. The result kept him solidly in the playoff picture, as he ended the day 193 points above the cut line with six races left in the regular season.
Stage One Finish: 9th Starting from eighth position on the grid, Annett stayed there for the first 10 laps to get the feel of his Chevrolet Camaro. Running ninth at the lap-20 competition caution, Annett did not pit, but told crew chief Travis Mack that his car was free on entry and that he needed adjustments for that and to get him off Turns 2 and 4. Over the remaining laps of the 45-lap Stage One, Annett remained in ninth place, earning two stage points. Under caution, Annett further noted that his car was tight in the center of the corners and he needed the nose to work better. Mack called him to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment in hopes of solving that, sending him back out in 10th-place.
Stage Two Finish: 10th As racing resumed, Annett’s handling woes continued as a long green-flag run began. Annett fell to 11thplace at lap 56 and lost another position when JRM teammate Jeb Burton got past 18 laps later. A caution period for a crashing Chase Briscoe allowed Annett to tell Mack that the Pilot Flying J machine was really tight and the nose was sliding on the seams of the track. Mack elected to stay out, and Annett was able to get a couple of positions via the new choose-cone rule that allows drivers to pick their lanes for the restart. On the green flag, Annett jumped to eighth for a lap before settling into ninth. With two laps remaining in Stage Two, Annett lost ninth to Burton and finished 10th, gaining a valuable stage point. On pit road, Mack made another chassis adjustment and an air-pressure tweak to go along with the four tires and fuel, and Annett’s pit crew held serve, sending him back out in 10th position.
Final Stage: The handling issues persisted on the slippery Dover concrete amid the longest run of the day, with Annett running 12th until lap 123 as the pace began to catch up to the field. Annett took 11th at lap 123 and got past Justin Haley three laps later for 10th. Two laps after that, Annett got past a struggling Brandon Brown, who had not pitted on the stage break, to put him ninth. On lap 150, Annett was still ninth when the caution flag waved for an incident in Turn 4. Inside the pit window for the end, Mack called Annett in for his last set of Goodyear tires, fuel to the finish and a wedge adjustment to help his handle.
Returning to the track in 12th, Annett quickly got past Ryan Sieg for 11th and was moving forward when, on lap 164, Brandon Jones spun off Turn 4. With no tires in the pits, Annett stayed out and took the green flag at lap 168 in 10th place. The next lap, Annett passed Anthony Alfredo for ninth and he would hold that top-10 position to the finish. It was his eighth top-10 finish in the last nine races and 11th of the season to go along with three top-five results.
“We struggled all day with keeping the front end turning, but this Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was solid to the end. Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) and the team made some good adjustments when we needed them and we brought it home ninth. We have 200 more laps here tomorrow, and we’ll know what we need when the green flag waves. It’s always good when JR Motorsports is in Victory Lane, so hat’s off to Justin and the No. 7 team.” - Michael Annett