Michael Annett earned his second consecutive top-10 finish on Saturday in the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway, using a late-race strategy call to get fresh tires with just 20 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. Annett had a chance at putting the No. 1 Pilot Flying J myRewards Plus™ Chevrolet in the top three as one of the only cars with fresh tires, but the late-race scramble saw him seventh at the checkered flag. It was Annett’s 10th top-10 result of the season and allowed the No. 1 team to gain further ground in the owner’s championship with just two races left in the season. The result moved the team up one spot to seventh in the standings, 25 off the cut line to advance to the Championship 4 with one race left to determine the field. Stage One Finish: 10th Annett began Saturday’s race from the eighth position, where his No. 1 Pilot Flying J myRewards Plus™ Chevrolet was slotted following the application of NASCAR’s mathematical formula to determine the starting lineup. Over the opening 10 laps of the stage, Annett dropped to 11th position after telling crew chief Mike Bumgarner that his Camaro was very loose coming off Turn 4 and at both ends of the track. Annett continued to experiment with different lines in an effort to figure out a way to move forward. At the lap-20 competition caution, Annett told his crew chief the car needed a chassis adjustment, but with track position—and stage points—being so critical, the team elected to stay out. Over the remaining laps of the 45-lap Stage One, Annett hung on to the top 15 and, following a caution period for an accident in Turn 4, advanced five positions to 10th in the final eight laps to earn a stage point critical to the team’s hopes of advancing in the owner’s championship. When the pits opened for service, Bumgarner brought his driver in for four tires, fuel and a pair of chassis adjustments to tighten Annett’s Chevrolet for Stage Two. The Pilot Flying J pit crew provided a fast stop and picked up two positions on the exchange, sending Annett out in eighth position for the 45-lap Stage Two. Stage Two Finish: 7th As Stage Two began at lap 52, Annett found some speed and advanced to sixth position in just two laps. Six laps later, the loose condition returned and Annett began to lose positions, falling all the way to 10th over the next 21 laps. The final 11 laps of Stage Two saw Annett in 12th position at the green-and-white checkered flag, missing out on additional stage points. Under caution, Annett told Bumgarner that the car was still loose on entry and was now free on exit at both ends of the track. On pit road during the stage break, Bumgarner dialed up four tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and another tweak to the chassis. Annett left pit road in 13th position for the start of the final segment. Final Stage: On the initial start of the final stage, the caution waved immediately for a crash among the leaders off Turn 2. Annett, running just behind the two participants, ducked low and got past the spinning cars with no damage. After another quick caution on the restart, Annett fired off from 11th position and took ninth place on the first lap of green-flag racing, but faded back to 12th. At lap 137, the caution waved again for a single-car crash, which allowed Annett to hit pit road for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Prior to the stop, Annett told Bumgarner that adjustment would put his race car where it needed to be to move ahead in the order. On the ensuing restart, Annett proved out the strategy by driving from 13th to 10th in just eight laps. He maintained his spot in the top 10 until the caution waved yet again at lap 156. Several of the cars ahead of him elected to pit, since it gave them fresh tires and put them in the fuel window for the finish. After some discussion, Bumgarner and Annett elected to stay out on older tires and gain track position. Following the other cars’ stops, Annett was scored in the fourth position for the restart. A caution flag waved on the first lap of green-flag racing with Annett in fifth. When the race returned to green-flag competition, Annett soon dropped to 10th as fresher tires overcame his track position. At lap 176, Annett moved to ninth and was challenging for eighth when a three-car crash stopped the action at lap 179. Coming to pit road for his final set of fresh Goodyear tires, Annett returned to the track in 12th position for the run to the finish as one of just four cars with fresh rubber. On the restart, Annett lost a couple of positions before settling in and racing back into the top 10 on lap 189. The Iowa native took seventh place on lap 189 and tracked down the sixth-place car with two to go, but could not make the pass and finished in seventh at the end of 200 laps. Ty Gibbs won the race over Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley and Ryan Sieg. Brett Moffitt led the second five with Annett, JR Motorsports teammates Sam Mayer and Justin Allgaier and Myatt Snider the rest of the top 10.
“On that last restart, I tried something, and if it had worked out, we could have been second. We started the day in our Pilot Flying J/myRewardsPlus™ Chevrolet way too loose, but Bummy (Bumgarner) and our pit crew did a great job with all the changes and on the pit stops. We’ll just build on this and go to Martinsville next week and do it all again, see if we can get into the Championship 4 in the owner’s points.” - Michael Annett