For the second day in a row, Michael Annett and the No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet team took the green flag with two laps remaining with a chance to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Off Turn 2 on the first lap of the overtime period in sixth position, Annett was caught up in a crash that ended that hope, but he and his team rallied to earn an 18th-place finish in the Contender Boats 250. In Saturday’s race, Annett had earned a career-best Homestead finish of sixth.
Stage One Finish: 2nd Starting 10th for Sunday’s 167-lap event, Annett moved up to eighth position in the first 10 laps of the 40-lap Stage One and took seventh a couple of laps later. At the competition caution on lap 20, Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that his Camaro was free from entry to the center and got worse back to the gas. Electing to stay out through the competition slowdown, Annett experimented with what his car was capable of and dropped back to 16th when the caution flag waved at lap 33.
Mack called Annett down pit road for tires, an air-pressure adjustment and a chassis tweak. Heading back out in 31st position with fresh tires, Annett sliced through the field in the remaining four laps, taking second spot on the front straightaway heading to the green-checkered flag. That earned nine valuable stage points for the No. 1 team. On the ensuing break, Mack brought Annett back in for four fresh tires, a top-off of the fuel tank and no adjustments, and Annett would start Stage Two in fifth place.
Stage Two Finish: 8th As the green flag waved to start Stage Two, Annett lost three spots in the battle on the way to Turn 1 and eventually settled into ninth place once the field sorted itself out. At lap 58, the Iowa native passed Ross Chastain for eighth position, and maintained that spot the rest of the way to lap 80 when the stage flag waved once again. During the run, Annett reported that his car was still too free, but he was gaining time as the laps clicked past. On pit road, Annett got four more tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment to help plant the front end, maintaining eighth position for the start of the final stage.
Final Stage: On the green flag, Annett held sway in the top 10 for the first three laps and dropped to 12th at lap 92 as the changes sorted themselves out. Eight laps later, Annett once again passed Chastain for 11th position and was running there at lap 107 when Austin Cindric’s flat tire moved him back into the top 10. One lap later, Annett passed Justin Haley for ninth, putting him in position to move up even more. Over the next 13 laps, Annett clicked off lap times in the top five and swept to eighth place at lap 121. He hit pit road under green one lap later for four tires and fuel to the end. Rejoining the race in 21st, Annett was back to 11th by lap 129, reeling in AJ Allmendinger to get back to the top 10. On lap 142, Annett got past a fading Chastain for 10th and kept going, getting ninth spot four laps later.
At lap 154, Annett passed Allmendinger for eighth and was seventh with eight laps remaining when Harrison Burton pitted with a flat tire. Riley Herbst was next in line, and Annett had tracked him down for sixth place when Cindric spun to bring out the caution and set up the initial green-white-checkered finish. Hitting pit road for tires and fuel, Annett returned to the track in sixth position and set about trying to improve on Saturday’s finish.
When the green waved, Annett pulled to the high side entering Turn 1 as the car ahead spun its tires and was still on the top side when the field reached Turn 2. Allmendinger, on the low line, hooked the right rear of Herbst’s car and sent it sideways toward the wall. Herbst slammed the rear of Daniel Annett’s Chevrolet and Annett, who was directly behind his teammate, on the left front, doing a ton of body and suspension damage. Heading down pit road, Mack and the crew cut away what they could and made repairs, sending Annett back out in 18th. Annett held that position through the next green-white-checkered and finished there, one lap down. Annett remains 10th in series points and in the playoff standings, 54 markers above the cut line after 10 races.
“It was a good run all day long for the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. For the second day in a row, we were running for a top-five on a green-white-checkered, and that’s good for this team. We had a good strategy and it played out the way it was supposed to. I got loose and had to check up off Turn 2 right before the accident. Otherwise I would have been on the outside of the 8 car (Hemric) when all that happened. Earned some stage points, so that will help, but it’s disappointing to end a good run that way.” - Michael Annett