Annett Takes Toyota to Victory Lane at Talladega; Crocker Earns Superspeedway Championship TALLADEGA AL (10-5-07) -- Michael Annett, in the Pilot Travel Centers Toyota, made history Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, becoming the first...
Annett Takes Toyota to Victory Lane at Talladega; Crocker Earns Superspeedway Championship
TALLADEGA AL (10-5-07) -- Michael Annett, in the Pilot Travel Centers Toyota, made history Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, becoming the first driver in the 55-year history of the ARCA RE/MAX Series to bring the Toyota nameplate to victory lane.
Annett, in a Bill Davis Racing entry, fought off Roush Fenway Racing's Colin Braun on the final lap, and then edged eight-time series champion Frank Kimmel at the checkered flag by a half-car length to win the thrilling ARCA RE/MAX 250 in only his fourth series start.
"I knew they were going to try something (on the final lap)," said Annett. "Colin came to the outside of me going through the trioval. We kind of got together. I just kept my left side on the yellow line, and when we got together it slowed down his momentum. Then Frank (Kimmel) decided to go with me, and that really helped. Frank raced me clean. You can't ask for more out of your competitors.
"It was a learning experience throughout the race. We got shuffled back early, but I found out what the car needed to get back up front. And once we got up there, we pretty much stayed there."
Simultaneously, Erin Crocker, who finished 18th, made history of her own by earning the 2007 Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Championship, becoming the first female driver to win the award.
"It's a really big deal for me," said Crocker. "It's a really prestigious award and it's a huge honor to win it. When you look back at some of the drivers who have won ARCA's superspeedway title, from Davey Allison to Frank Kimmel, it makes it even more special.
"I also think it could really help my career. It means something to be the ARCA RE/MAX Series Superspeedway champion. I'm truly honored to hold the title."
Kimmel, in addition to finishing second, clinched the 2007 Bill France Triple Crown Award, which is designed to measure a driver's success on three very different tracks. This year's edition of the award included a dirt track (DuQuoin State Fairgrounds), a short track (Salem Speedway) and a superspeedway (Talladega).
"I think the fastest car won the race," said Kimmel. "Michael (Annett) did a nice job. He was really fast. We just couldn't quite team up enough to pass him. I was able to get by Colin (Braun) right there at the very end, and then almost made it (past Annett), but didn't quite."
Dominick Casola, in Andy Belmont's A. Casola Farms Ford, finished third, marking his career best finish in his first restrictor plate start. Casola was also the highest-finishing rookie and earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions.
"I'd never drafted with anyone before," said Casola. "So this weekend definitely paid dividends. We started in the middle, fell to the back, and I tried to work my way back up there. My car was real strong all day. I just haven't had a lot of experience on these restrictor-plate tracks."
Richard Johns finished fourth in the BeavEx Ford. Billy Venturini finished fifth in the Hampton Luxury Homes Chevrolet.
From start to finish, Annett was the dominant player in the show, leading 75 of the 94 laps that made up the 250-mile race. Braun was also a factor most of the way, leading eight laps before getting shuffled back to ninth at the finish.
2007 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti made his stock car debut in Chip Ganassi's Dodge, and finished 17th.
"I gained a huge amount of experience learning from the start of the race," said Franchitti. "The first part of the race I was drafting like an Indy car. I was getting up behind people and then I figured out it was more important who was pushing you than who is in front of you. Once I figured that out I was getting into side drafting and everything started to come together.
"It was a lot of fun out there. I'm disappointed with the result, but what I've learned, I don't think you can put a price on it. I learned so much today. I'm looking at the long game. I'm looking at next year. From that point of view, I'm very happy. I'm a little disappointed because I think the Target guys deserved a better result than that."
Bryan Clauson earned the SIM Factory Pole Award on Thursday with a speed of 184.840 mph. Clauson also battled back from one lap down to finish 11th.