Michael Annett started the 200-lap NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway from the ninth position, his best qualifying effort this season. Annett finished the Feed The Children 300 as follows:
Fourth—Michael Annett, No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang
Friday night marked Annett’s first top-five and highest finish this season with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Annett made his 120th NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend.
Starting tonight’s 300-mile race from ninth, Annett slipped back one position at the drop of the green flag, but it didn’t take him long to start moving forward. When the first caution flag of the day flew on Lap 26, Annett was running in the eighth spot.
Just prior to the yellow flag waving, Annett communicated to Crew Chief Philippe Lopez that the car was tight in the center of the corners and on exit. Lopez elected to bring the Pilot Flying J Ford onto pit road for two right side tires and fuel under caution. The lightning quick two-tire stop allowed Annett to gain two positions in the pits and he restarted in sixth.
The changes made during the first pit stop of the day seemed to improve the car’s handling slightly and Annett relayed to the team that the No. 43 was still a bit tight, but overall he was happy with the car.
Running lap times faster than the leaders, Annett was scored just inside the top-five at Lap 45.
As the laps wore on, the field began to cycle through green-flag pit stops and the Iowa native was credited with leading a lap, before coming down pit road for a routine stop on Lap 84. By leading a lap, Annett earned a bonus point, helping him to gain ground in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings.
During the second stop of the day, Lopez and crew called for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment in hopes of correcting the car’s tight condition. After the remainder of the field had cycled through green-flag stops, Annett was running in fifth and gaining ground on the leader.
At Lap 137 the Pilot Flying J Ford team was running in second-place and preparing to make their third and final pit stop of the day. Annett keyed the mic to let the crew know he was still fighting a tight race car and he wanted to make a chassis adjustment on the next stop.
The caution flag flew for the third time on Lap 143, allowing the No. 43 to come down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Taking the green flag in the second spot with just over 50-laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Annett slipped back to the fifth position on the restart.
With a car that was running lap times faster than the leader, Annett never gave up and was able to drive his way to the fourth spot by Lap 161. He remained in fourth-place for the remainder of the night and crossed the finish line with his first top-five finish of the season.
Austin Dillon claimed the victory Friday night and Annett was the highest-finishing Ford.
Unofficially, Annett remains in the seventh position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings heading into Daytona next weekend.
Annett’s Thoughts After the Race: “This weekend just started off perfect. Last night when we unloaded for practice we were really happy with our Pilot Flying J Ford. We tried something new on this Mustang and it was even better. We had a car that could run the bottom, run on the line and move up three grooves and we knew that is what we were going to need tonight after watching the truck race and seeing how hard it was to pass. That is what we built into it this afternoon and we are really happy with the way it ended up. It’s great to get my first top-five finish for ‘The King’, my team and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports.”
Source: Richard Petty Motorsports