A late-race pit stop allowed Michael Annett to get the tires he needed on Saturday as the Iowa native drove his patriotically-themed Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish on the 2.439-mile road course inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Annett’s second straight top-10 finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series following a fifth-place at Pocono Raceway last week, and his fifth of the season.
Stage One Finish: 13th After drawing the second starting spot, Annett began the 62-lap inaugural event on the road course alongside JR Motorsports teammate Jeb Burton. By the time the first lap was in the books, Annett was seventh as the cars sorted themselves out. At the halfway point of Stage One, Annett was running 14th when Vinnie Miller lost a tire and brought out the caution flag with just three laps remaining in the 20-lap stage. Crew chief Travis Mack pondered pitting ahead of the stage break, but the cleanup took too long and the pits were never opened, putting Annett 13th at the green-and-white-checkered flag. When the pits were open for business, Annett came down for four tires and fuel, gaining three positions to start Stage Two from 12th.
Stage Two Finish: 5th Annett dropped to 15th after the first lap of green-flag running once Stage Two got under way and he was 14th on lap 35 when Brandon Jones’ car spouted flames and brought out the caution flag. Just five laps were left in the stage when the majority of the field decided to come to pit road. Mack and Annett stayed out, moving all the way to second place for the restart just three laps later. Lining up for the restart, Mack told Annett to “do your best two laps and get your stage points.” Annett did so, crossing the line fifth to pick up six important stage points and set himself up for the final run to the checkered flag. Under the caution, Annett came to pit road for four more tires and an adjustment, dropping back to 18th following the stop.
Final Stage: The race went green again at lap 43, and Annett was 20th on lap 46. After passing Josh Williams the next time by, Annett got back to where he started the final stage in two more circuits. The yellow would wave again for debris, and Mack called his driver in for four more tires and an easing of the last adjustment. Gaining a few positions on the exchange, Annett would take off from 11th-place for the run to the checkered. The charge to Turn 1 was packed solid at the entry, and Annett slid through a gap in the middle to ninth with six laps left. Over the final circuits, Annett ran as high as seventh before finishing ninth at the checkered flag.
“That was a team effort. On new tires, the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was very positive, but when we got the new off of them and they started to slide a little bit, I could put it where I needed it to be. That last pit stop, the crew guys had a great stop and that helped us get the track position we needed, and I got a good restart at the end. Our strategy was to be there at the end and we were, and that’s good for our points and the playoffs.” - Michael Annett