For the second straight day, Michael Annett put together a solid run in the Drydene 200 at Dover International Speedway, pairing an eighth-place finish on Sunday with Saturday’s ninth-place result in the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. The Iowa driver led five laps near the end of the race as green-flag pit stops were made, and emerged with another solid finish. Annett has nine top-10s in the last 10 races, and Sunday’s result put him 204 points ahead of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff cutline with just five races remaining before they start.
Stage One Finish: Starting seventh in the field based on his finish in Saturday’s race, Annett focused on sorting out the setup changes made overnight by Travis Mack and his No 1 team. An early caution flag gave him the chance to report to Mack that his Pilot Flying J Camaro was tight later in the corners but the front end was much more positive than it had been the day before. Over the 45-lap Stage One, Annett ran as high as seventh and as low as 11th, experimenting to see what his car would do for later on. On a restart at lap 24, Annett got away ninth, but lost two positions over the next 20 laps to finish Stage One in 11th place. On pit road, Annett took four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help his tight condition, and went back out in 12th position.
Stage Two Finish: Stage Two began the same as Stage One, with Annett taking his time to figure out what his car wanted. Annett ran between 12th and 13th for much of the stage, picking up the 11th position on lap 90 as the green-checkered flag waved over the field. Under caution, Annett told Mack that he needed a little more front turn to be able finish off passes, especially running multiple lines around the concrete oval. Mack responded with four tires, fuel and another chassis change to help the front end and an air-pressure change to help his tight condition on exit. He exited the pits in 14th, but used the choose cone to advance up the order on the inside line.
Final Stage: Firing off from eighth position, Annett immediately hooked up in a battle with Brandon Jones for seventh, taking that position just five laps into the run. He would stay in seventh until lap 133, when the lapped car of Jeremy Clements balked his entry into Turn 3 and Jones pounced for the position. Continuing on in eighth place, Annett would hold his position there until green-flag stops began at lap 160. The first car to dive to pit road was JRM teammate Daniel Hemric, and Annett would soldier on in sixth position, just outside the top five. As more and more cars hit pit road for their final stops, Annett marched up the order, finally assuming the lead at lap 183 when JRM’s Noah Gragson surrendered the top spot. Annett finally dived to pit lane at lap 188 for two tires and fuel to the end, cycling back onto the track in seventh position. Over the final 11 laps, Annett held position until the leader got past on lap 195, putting him the first car one lap down. He would finish eighth.
“We made some changes overnight to the setup and it worked pretty well all day. For 400 laps in two days, to come out with a couple of top-10 finishes and no damage, that’s a good weekend’s work. We had a good solid run today and had the strategy worked a little different it could have been even better. Now we get to go to Daytona, and that’s always good for this Pilot Flying J team.” - Michael Annett