Michael Annett started the caution-filled Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway from the 14th position. Annett had momentum from the drop of the green flag and gained four spots in just the first lap to be scored in the 10th position. Clicking off lap times faster than the leader, Annett continued to move toward the front of the field and was scored in seventh when the first caution flag of the day flew on Lap 15 for an accident on the frontstretch.
Continuing to run fast lap times, Annett quickly made his way back toward the front of the field and was scored in 12th at Lap 40. The next 30 laps proved to be eventful as the caution flag flew four times for a total of 15 laps. The No. 43 machine visited pit road during two of the four cautions for routine service, with his last stop coming at Lap 70.
Restarting in 15th, Annett again made his way toward the front of the field and was back inside the top 10 at Lap 87. Having pitted slightly off sequence with the majority of the field on Lap 70, Annett was able to continue to run laps when the frontrunners began to pit for fuel and fresh tires at Lap 96. Though he was running in fifth at Lap 110, Annett communicated to his crew that he was still loose and needed some chassis adjustments under the next stop to try to tighten his EFS Ford. Just two laps later, the caution flew and the driver came into the pits for four fresh tires, fuel, and trackbar and air pressure adjustments. Shortly after pitting, Annett let his Richard Petty Motorsports team know that the changes made on the previous stop had helped the handling of his No. 43 machine.
Annett maintained his position inside the top 10 until making his final pit stop of the day under caution on Lap 139. With his car still fighting a loose condition, Annett asked his crew for a wedge adjustment, four fresh tires and fuel. Several cars again only elected to take two tires and Annett restarted in 14th. Immediately after the pit stop, Lopez communicated to his driver that he needed to save fuel under any remaining caution periods as it looked like they may be a lap short from making it to the end.
Shortly after the restart, Annett was shuffled out of line and fell back to 17th before slipping back into his preferred racing groove. Once back in line, Annett began to methodically make his way back toward the front, and was scored in 10th at Lap 173 when the caution flag flew for the 11th time.
Confident they would have enough fuel to make it to the end, the No. 43 team elected not to pit and Annett restarted in 10th with just 25 laps remaining. The driver of the EFS machine was on a mission and quickly gained several positions to be scored in sixth at Lap 183. Just when it looked like Annett was going to have to settle for a sixth-place finish, the yellow flag flew for the 12th and final time on Lap 199 for an accident in Turn 2. The late race caution set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish, adding laps and making the fuel mileage situation many teams were dealing with even tighter.
Annett was set to restart on Lap 202 in the fourth position when the No. 12 of Sam Hornish Jr. ran out of fuel in front of him, forcing the restart to be waved off. With the No. 12 having to come down pit road for fuel, Annett moved up to the third spot and was in the perfect position to make a run for the win at the Lap 204 restart. When the green flag flew for the final time, Annett was poised to make a run on the low side when the No. 33 of Paul Menard ran out of gas directly in front of the him, causing Annett to take evasive action and move to the outside line. In doing so, Annett was forced into the No. 22 of Ryan Blaney, causing him to slip back several spots before he could settle in line in eighth. With only one lap remaining, Annett ran out of time to make up any real estate and finished the 206-lap race in the eighth position.
Saturday’s top-10 finish marked Annett’s eighth-consecutive finish of 10th or better and his 16th top-10 of the season. Annett’s top-10 finish allows him to maintain his fifth-place position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings.
The Nationwide Series will take their final off-weekend next week and return to racing action at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks.
Annett’s Thoughts after the Race: “I thought we had a shot to win there at the end, but it just didn’t go our way. Paul (Menard) ran out of gas in front of me on that final restart and I didn’t have anywhere to go but up the hill into Ryan (Blaney). That killed our momentum and I got shuffled back to eighth. I just didn’t have enough time to make up any ground on that final lap. We had a great EFS Ford today and it’s a shame we didn’t have a better finish to show for it. We were fast from the time we unloaded on Thursday, and those are the kind of weekends we like to have. We just made minor adjustments all day, and our car was in position to challenge for a win at the end and that’s all we can ask for. My crew has worked so hard all year, and we are so close to getting our first win. We’ve got three more chances before the season is over and we are going to head to Texas with one thing on our mind, a victory.”
Source: Richard Petty Motorsports