No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang
• Michael Annett started Saturday’s 200-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 14th position
• Annett finished tonight’s 211-mile race in 11th place, marking his 14th top-15 finish in just 16 races
• Annett maintains his position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings and sits in sixth spot heading into Chicago next weekend
Race Summary: Michael Annett started the FW Webb 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the 14th position and maintained that spot for the opening laps of the race. On Lap 23 Annett was running in the 13th spot when he keyed the mic to let his Pilot Flying J crew know that the car was tight and hitting the ground going into Turn 3. Just 15 laps later, the first caution flag of the day flew for debris allowing Crew Chief Philippe Lopez to call Annett into the pits for four fresh tires, fuel and wedge, air pressure and track bar adjustments. Restarting in 13th on Lap 42, Annett began to methodically move through the field and was scored in ninth at Lap 59.
Continuing to run inside the top-10, Annett communicated to Lopez and crew on Lap 70 that he was still tight and needed the front of his No. 43 machine to turn better in the corners. The second caution flag of the day flew on Lap 82 and Lopez called Annett into the pits for four new Goodyears, fuel and an air pressure adjustment in hopes of tightening up the Pilot Flying J Ford. Several other teams elected to take only two tires under caution and Annett restarted in 11th.
The changes made on the previous stop seemed to improve the handling of the No. 43, and Annett began clicking off lap times comparable to the leader. Though he was running good lap times, the driver of the No. 43 was still fighting a tight condition and the crew elected to make an array of chassis adjustment during the next pit stop of the day on Lap 123. Annett restarted in 12th and had worked his way up to 11th when the fourth and final caution flag of the day flew on Lap 151. Lopez elected not to bring the Pilot Flying J Ford on to pit road under caution and Annett was able to gain two positions by not pitting.
With 40 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Annett had again slipped back to 11th and relayed to his crew that the car was the tightest it had been all day, and it was really difficult to drive into the bumps in Turn 3. As the laps quickly wound down, there was not enough time to bring Annett into the pits for chassis adjustments and, though he was fighting an ill handling race car, he was able to maintain his track position and came home in 11th place.
Annett’s 11th-place finish marks his ninth finish of 11th or better this season. The Iowa native sits in the sixth spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings heading into Chicago next weekend.
Annett’s Thoughts After the Race: “That was a hard earned 11th-place finish. We fought a tight race car all day, and there at the end it was like riding a bucking bronco as bumpy as it was getting into the corners. My Pilot Flying J team never gave up and fought hard all day to make changes, but we never quite got a handle on it. We wanted to win that $100,000 Dash 4 Cash award, but today just wasn’t our day. We’ll head into Chicago next weekend and do our best to qualify again, so we can be racing for $100,000 in Indy.”
Source: Richard Petty Motorsports