Saturday marked Annett’s ninth top-15 finish in just 11 races with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Annett made his 116th NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend.
Annett ran in the top-20 for nearly the entire 300-mile event and was running lap times as fast as the leaders several times throughout the race.
The first caution flag of the day flew on Lap 7 and Annett relayed to his crew that the No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford was lacking rear grip. Having only seven laps on his tires, Crew Chief Philippe Lopez elected not to bring Annett into the pits. The second caution flag of the day flew just eight laps later, and again Annett elected not to come down pit road.
On Lap 40, the Iowa-native keyed his mic and communicated to the crew that the No. 43 Ford was under power and it felt like a plug wire had come loose. Luckily, it wasn’t long until the third caution flag of the day flew on Lap 54 and Lopez was able to call Annett into the pits to reconnect the loose plug wire and add fuel.
Annett came back into the pits under the Lap 54 caution a second time to make final adjustments on the plug wire. The team was able to stay on the lead lap restarting in the 25th position.
After the plug wire issue was resolved, Annett quickly drove his way into the top-20 and was scored in the 18th position on Lap 85, running lap times comparable to the leaders.
Continuing to run in the top-20, Annett relayed to the crew that his car was tight, and on Lap 111 Annett was able to come down pit road during a routine green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a wedge and air pressure adjustment to help with the car’s handling issues. Though the car still seemed to be tight after the adjustments were made, Annett communicated to the crew that the Pilot Flying J Ford was running better.
Still struggling with a tight handling car, Annett came down pit road again during a Lap 127 caution period, this time for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The caution flag flew again on Lap 139 and Crew Chief Lopez called for a track bar adjustment and gas only on a Lap 143 pit stop. The stop ensured the No. 43 would be able to make it to the end of the race on fuel.
Electing not to stop on the seventh and final caution of the race on Lap 148, Annett was able to gain several positions to take the green-flag restart in the 11th spot on Lap 154.
The remaining 46 laps, Annett continued to fight an ill-handling car and had slipped back to the 15th position by Lap 167. Annett remained in 15th place until the final lap of the race where he was able to pass Mike Wallace to take the checkered flag in 14th. Annett was the highest finishing Ford in Saturday afternoon’s 300-mile race.
Brad Keselowski claimed the victory Saturday in a race that saw the caution flag wave seven times for a total of 38 laps.
Unofficially, Annett is now seventh in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver point standings heading into Dover next weekend.
Annett’s Thoughts After the Race: “That was a hard earned top-15 finish. The loose plug wire really hurt us in the start. The biggest problem with the plug wire deal is you run that many laps on seven cylinders you don’t know what the car has and it puts us halfway through the race behind on adjustments we need to make. We got behind and didn’t really know what we had halfway through the race and started guessing a little bit. That was our downfall there at the end. Our Pilot Flying J Ford wasn’t too bad, it was just way too tight and we were just making adjustments by guessing what we saw around us. I’m just glad to be able to bring home another solid finish and hopefully we can go to Dover and improve so we can get some spots back in the points”