No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang
· Michael Annett started the originally scheduled 200-mile event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the 33rd position
· Annett finished Saturday's race in 28th place at the Montreal, Québec, Canada road course
· Annett maintains his position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings and sits in the sixth spot heading into Bristol next weekend
Race Summary: Michael Annett started the Napa Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from the 33rd position. After running just a few laps, Annett reported that something seemed to be amiss under the hood and he felt like all seven cylinders were not firing properly. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez instructed his driver to stay on track as long as he could to try and gain some positions and hopefully catch an early caution to come into the pits to access the problem.
Though Annett was experiencing engine issues, he was still methodically passing cars and had worked his way up to the 18th position by Lap 8. Continuing to run just inside the top 20, Annett and crew finally got the caution flag they were waiting for and Lopez called his driver into the pits on Lap 20. The crew bolted on four fresh tires, added fuel and put the hood up on the No. 43 to check the spark plug wires in an attempt to figure out what was causing the engine to misfire.
Not wanting to lose a lap, Annett returned to the track before pitting a second time under the initial caution on Lap 21. This time, Annett was instructed to turn the car off, and the crew went to work changing all the plug wires in hopes of fixing the problem. The lengthy plug wire change caused Annett to fall a lap down to the leaders as the race returned to green before he could leave pit road. The Iowa native restarted 32nd one lap down.
After running a lap under full power, Annett communicated to the crew that the engine issue seemed to be resolved. Determined to get his lap back, the driver of the Pilot flying J Ford quickly passed the No. 19 to put himself in the "Lucky Dog" position, should a caution happen to come out. Annett and team got their wish, when the yellow flag was displayed at Lap 34 for an accident in Turns 6 and 7. Just prior to coming into the pits under caution, Annett came over the radio and relayed to his team that the car was again not running on all seven cylinders. Coming into the pits on Lap 35, the crew changed another plug wire, hoping to fix the problem once and for all.
Restarting at the tail end of the lead lap, Annett's day got worse when he overdrove the corner on Lap 38 trying to avoid a slow car. The evasive action caused Annett to get loose in the carousel and his car spun hitting the wall. The hard contact with the wall caused heavy damage to the left side of the Pilot Flying J machine and bent the track bar significantly. After accessing the damage on pit road, Lopez made the call to bring his driver into the garage for repairs on Lap 40.
After extensive repairs to sheet metal and the track bar, the Richard Petty Motorsports crew had the No. 43 machine patched up in just seven laps. As Annett headed back onto the track the field was under caution and he was able to come down pit road to top off with fuel on Lap 47. With a wounded car, Annett restarted 33rd, eight laps behind the leader. Though he was several laps down, Annett and crew never gave up and continued to make smart laps around the 2.7-mile race track in an attempt to gain as many points as possible.
As the remaining laps wore on, five caution flags were displayed and several cars fell out of the race. By virtue of the crews' hard work and the driver's determination, Annett was able to gain five valuable spots by getting back the on track after earlier repairs and finished Saturday's race in Montreal in the 28th position.
The originally scheduled 74-lap race saw three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, before Justin Allgaier made an exciting last-lap pass on hometown-favorite Jacques Villeneuve to claim the victory at the end of the day.
Despite his rough day, Annett remains in the sixth spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings heading into Bristol next weekend.
Annett's Thoughts After the Race: "What a tough day for our whole Pilot Flying J race team. It was just one thing after another and we couldn't seem to catch a break all day. I have to thank my crew for all the hard work they put in, it wasn't easy and they worked their guts out. I'm ready to put this whole weekend behind us and head to Bristol. This was our last road course race of the year, and I'm ready to get back to focusing on the oval tracks, where we seem to run really strong. We'll go into Bristol next weekend knowing we are capable of a top-10 or better finish and hopefully get some of our momentum back."
Source: Richard Petty Motorsports