Coming to the checkered flag in Friday night’s Alsco 300, Michael Annett was battling for a second straight top-five finish on the 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky Speedway. Through Turns 3 and 4, the Iowa driver fought hard for position with his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro before contact on the exit of Turn 4 caused Annett to have to settle for a top-10 finish instead. Annett’s eighth-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event was his fourth straight top-10 result, including a pair of top-fives. One of those came in Thursday night’s event, the opening leg of the weekend doubleheader at Kentucky.
Stage One Finish: Annett started 11th for the 45-lap Stage One, as Thursday night’s top 15 finishers were inverted for Friday’s race. At the green flag, Annett immediately moved into the top 10 and stayed there through the lap-20 competition caution. Under yellow, Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that the front of the car was too positive and the front end was not as hooked up as it was the night before. Battling the handling over the next 25 laps, Annett eventually finished 11th in the stage, missing stage points after doubling up in Thursday’s event. On the ensuing pit stop, Annett received four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. He would line up for Stage Two in 11th place after a penalty was being served ahead of him.
Stage Two Finish: When the green flag waved to begin Stage Two, Annett needed just four laps to get back to the top 10, passing Brandon Brown for 10th. He would settle in there until lap 69, when JRM teammate Noah Gragson got past. One lap later, Annett radioed to Mack that the front end felt different and the rear tires were out of the track. Ten laps later, Annett told Mack that his Camaro had swung to the tight side. The leaders were on a tear at that point, and Annett would finish the stage at lap 90 in 12th, the last car on the lead lap. On his pit stop, Mack again changed four tires, added fuel and made a track-bar adjustment to help Annett’s handling. A fast stop gained two positions, and he would begin the final stage in the top 10.
Final Stage: As he had done before, Annett took off well and was up to eighth the third time past the flag stand. The ebb-and-flow nature of racing at Kentucky saw Annett drop to ninth at lap 100 and to 10th one lap later. Annett would run 10th for the next 42 laps before green-flag pit stops began, and he climbed as high as sixth before coming to pit road himself with 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. Mack made another chassis adjustment in addition to four tires and fuel and sent his driver back out in 12th position, one lap down. As the pit stops cycled through, Annett got back on the lead serial when Ross Chastain finally came in at lap 156. Annett was ninth on lap 180 when teammate Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones crashed off Turn 2, which set up a thrilling run to the finish. Hitting pit road on lap 182, Annett got four fresh tires and fuel and headed back out in seventh place for the final flurry, which began with 13 laps remaining. Annett immediately took sixth place at the green and cracked the top five at lap 192. Teammates Hemric, Gragson and Justin Allgaier were in the same pack and all were in the battle for the top five spots, and the action got hot and heavy with the checkered flag in sight. Annett pulled to the low side of Hemric in Turns 3 and 4, the two made contact and scrambled the finishing order. With his finish, Annett remains eighth in series points, 136 markers over the cut line.
“We had another top-five finish in our hands tonight. I was on the inside of Daniel, and we were going for it on the last lap. I hate that it happened, but everybody was going for it to the checkered. Our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet came alive on the next-to-last pit stop and got better with the final stop. Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) made good adjustments and we got the front to work like it did last night. Two races, and we got a top-five and a top-10. I’ll take that any day. Wish we could have gotten another top-five, but we battled for it. It was a good weekend for this whole No. 1 team.” - Michael Annett