Michael Annett started the originally scheduled 147-lap NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Darlington Raceway from the 22nd position. Annett finished the VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200 as follows:
14th—Michael Annett, No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang
Friday night marked Annett’s seventh top-15 finish in just nine races with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Annett made his 114th NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend.
Annett ran in the top-15 for nearly the entire 200-mile event and was running lap times as fast as the leader several times throughout the race.
The first pit stop of the day for the No. 43 came under caution on Lap 37. Annett relayed to Crew Chief Philippe Lopez that the car needed a little more positive turn if he was going to continue making his way toward the front of the field. Coming into the pits in the 15th position, the Pilot Flying J crew added four fresh tires, fuel and made an air pressure adjustment during a lightning-quick stop.
Annett gained one position during the previous pit stop and restarted in 14th place. After running just a few laps, he relayed to the crew that he didn’t like the changes made during the first pit stop of the day and his car was very loose.
Continuing to run in the top-15, the Pilot Flying J machine got increasingly loose as the laps wore on. Annett was able to come down pit road on Lap 92 during a routine green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to help with the car’s handling issues. Though the car still seemed to be loose after the adjustments made, Annett communicated to the crew that the No. 43 was handling better.
Struggling to find rear grip, Annett fell a lap down near the Lap 100 mark due to a long green-flag run where nearly half the field was passed by the leaders.
Annett and the whole No. 43 crew refused to give up and at Lap 128 the caution flag flew for the fourth time, allowing the Pilot Flying J Ford to get the “wave around” by electing not to come down pit road.
After getting his lap back, Annett was determined to stay on the lead lap and had wheeled his way to the 14th position by Lap 143.
Annett barely avoided a multi-car accident on Lap 144 and remained in 14th as the field lined up for a green-white-checkered flag restart on Lap 149.
When the green flag flew for the final time, Annett was able to maintain his position for the remaining two laps of the event and brought the Pilot Flying J Ford home in the 14th position.
Joey Logano claimed the victory Friday night in a race that saw the caution flag wave six times for a total of 32 laps. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the highest finishing Ford, crossing the strip in the sixth spot.
Unofficially, Annett remains in the sixth place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings heading into Iowa next weekend.
Annett’s Thoughts After the Race: “Our night started off really promising. I think we had one of the fastest cars on the track and we were coming back from a poor qualifying effort. On that first pit stop we needed a little bit more turn, but not much and just got really loose from that point on. Then we lost our brakes and on that last green-white-checker it was impossible to be racy because we had to give up so much getting into the corner. I couldn’t slow down and we couldn’t be as aggressive as we wanted, but the Pilot Flying J car doesn’t have a scratch on it, so we can go home and make it better at the shop rather than putting a new side on it.”