Michael Annett drove to a seventh-place finish in Sunday night’s Boyd Gaming 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, earning his first top-10 finish of the season and setting the stage for a solid West Coast swing in the process.
After finishing sixth in Saturday’s Stage One and waiting out persistent rain showers that forced postponement to Sunday, Annett ran in the top echelon all night long on the way to fourth place in series points after two events.
Stage One Finish: 6th After starting from the eighth position on Saturday, Annett put his No. 1 Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet on a rail over the first circuit, crossing under the flag stand fifth before dropping back to eighth for the run to the competition caution, which was scheduled for lap 20.
Reporting to crew chief Travis Mack, Annett said his No. 1 Chevrolet had good front turn, but the rear tires felt like they were on top of the track. Mack called his driver to pit road for four tires and fuel at the caution, and sent him back out in eighth position for the remainder of Stage One. Staying in the back half of the top 10, Annett worked various lines before catching fire. On lap 40, Annett passed both Harrison Burton and JRM teammate Noah Gragson with an outside-in move into Turn 3 to take sixth position, which he would hold until the green-checkered flag waved at lap 45.
It was the third straight stage in which Annett had scored points this season after doubling up in the opener at Daytona. Heading to pit road, Mack called again for four tires and fuel and the No. 1 team got him out in seventh spot. Before the race could go back to green-flag racing, the rains came in again and forced postponement to Sunday evening.
Stage Two Finish: 4th When the race resumed on Sunday, Annett took the green flag from fifth position after a couple of cars around him pitted. On lap 60, Annett passed Ross Chastain for fourth and ran there until a yellow waved on lap 71, using the low groove to power his way toward the top three. Under caution, Annett told Mack that the front turn was very good, but the rear tires were out of the track, the same situation he faced in Stage One on Saturday. Once racing resumed, so did Annett’s battle with Chastain. After slipping to sixth, Annett reset and needed just a handful of laps to regain fourth position, and he held it to the end of Stage Two.
Combined with his finish in Stage One, Annett made it two straight races in 2020 with double stage points. Mack gave his driver four new tires, a full load of fuel and made both air-pressure and chassis adjustments to help glue the No. 1 Camaro to the track. The pit crew ripped off a blazing stop and put their driver out in second place, just behind teammate Justin Allgaier, for the run to the checkered flag.
Final Stage: Starting on the front row, Annett took off when the green waved and was swallowed up when his shifter hung up in second gear. By the time he got it sorted out, he was sixth. A few laps later, on lap 100, Annett brushed the wall off Turn 2 in traffic, but the damage was slight. That set up a 15-lap battle with Burton for the spot, which Burton took on lap 115. On lap 129, while running eighth, Annett told Mack that all four tires were on top of the track at that point. Coming up on the pit window to the end of the race, Mack kept his driver on the track until lap 146, when Annett came down under green for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. In the middle of a green-flag flurry, Annett rejoined the race in 13th but wound up seventh a couple of laps later when a pair of competitors were caught speeding on pit road. He ran there until lap 163, when the caution waved for a crash on the front straightaway.
With one fresh set of tires in the pit lane, Mack called Annett back down pit road to put them on. After getting back on track, it was discovered a lug nut was loose and he had to return to pit lane to get it tightened. That left him ninth for the run to the checkered. When the race restarted, Annett needed just two laps to move up a spot, passing Riley Herbst for eighth. Annett maintained position there until lap 196, when he got past teammate Justin Allgaier for seventh, which is where he finished. Annett currently sits fourth in series points, 15 points out of the lead after two events.
“We had a fast Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet for most of the night, and it was getting better at the end. We had good strategy and the car was solid, but we went through a period where I couldn’t run the middle of Turns 3 and 4 to save my life. We got back up to seventh and scored double stage points for the second week in a row. It was a long weekend, but a good one for our No. 1 team and we’ll come back out to California next week and hopefully continue working our way forward.” - Michael Annett