Annett Concludes 2011 Season Ninth in Nationwide Series Championship Point Standings
Homestead, Fla. (November 21, 2011) -Rusty Wallace Racing driver Michael Annett closed out his 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series campaign as the ninth place contender in the championship points standings. The 25-year-old Des Moines, Iowa native looks forward to continuing his partnership with both Rusty Wallace Racing and his sponsor, Pilot Flying J, in 2012.
Saturday night's Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was the last of 34 races on the 2011 circuit. With new partner Combos onboard with Pilot Flying J, Annett headed into the 200 lap event eighth in the championship point race with just six markers separating him from ninth place Brian Scott. After securing a 15th place start, Annett's goal for the night was to stay ahead of Scott to finish out the season as the eighth place driver in points.
The No. 62 Rusty Wallace Racing pit crew made their first stop of the day under a competition caution on lap 36. Gaining three spots on pit road, Annett was placed in 11th for the restart on lap 39.
Struggling with a loose-to-tight handling racecar, Annett fought lap after lap for top-10 track position. As other cars began to pit around lap 90, crew chief Rick Viers had the No. 62 car stay out for a few more laps. The yellow flag came out on lap 92 and Annett was positioned third on the leaderboard. In for another four-tire stop, he restarted eighth on lap 97.
The caution was back out on lap 130. In order to gain an extra point, Viers kept Annett out on the track to lead lap 134. On lap 135, the No. 62 Pilot Flying J/Combos crew changed four tires, refueled and made a wedge adjustment to their Camry. Annett's Toyota was back out on the track in 17th for the restart.
The field ran nine laps under green before the track returned to yellow flag conditions. While most cars pitted, Annett stayed out and restarted second with 47 laps to go. The caution was back out on lap 174, and 10th place Annett reported that although he was battling cars with four fresh tires, his last run was the most consistent that the car had been all night. Back in for four Goodyears and fuel, he restarted 11th with 21 laps remaining.
On lap 188, the No. 09 car spun across the track and caught the right front corner of the No. 62 Pilot Flying J/Combos Camry bringing out the last of nine cautions. Before the yellow, Annett was in position to hold onto his eighth place points position. He battled out the final laps with a damaged splitter and a right front tire going down, leaving a strong night to end with a disappointing 19th place finish that knocked him back to ninth in the standings, a mere three points behind eighth place Scott.
"It's really unfortunate that we weren't able to hold onto eighth in points, but there was nothing we could do in those last several laps. The damage we suffered from the No. 09 held us back like a parachute," said Annett, "I'm really proud of the amount of effort and hard work Rick Viers and our whole team put forth this season. A huge thank you goes out to Combos and Mars Inc. for partnering with Pilot Flying J this weekend at Homestead. I really appreciate all of the continued support Pilot Flying J has given me throughout my racing career and look forward to teaming with them again next season. We've got some really exciting things coming up the pike for 2012, and I can't wait to get back to Daytona in February."