Event: Las Vegas
No. 62 Pilot Flying J team picks up Momentum with Solid Run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, NV (March 6, 2011) - Aiming for a show stopping finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Michael Annett and Rusty Wallace Racing's No. 62 Pilot Flying J team turned their season opening bad luck around in Saturday's Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300. Although Annett's 13th place finish didn't give justice to the team's performance this weekend, his seven spot advance in the Nationwide Series championship point standings to 15th moved the driver closer to where he warrants in the point race.
With a strong start to the weekend's race festivities, the No. 62 Pilot Flying J Camry was seventh in final practice on Friday before Annett secured a 12th place starting position in Saturday morning's qualifying session.
Confident that his race car was dialed in for a solid 200 lap race, Annett pushed his way into the top-10 at the drop of the green flag. Battling a pit road speeding penalty under green flag race conditions, Annett still maintained speeds consistent with the leaders and worked his way back on the lead lap with the Lucky Dog free pass with 100 laps to go. By lap 144 of the 200 lap event, he showed his strength by running in a top-five position.
With less than 30 laps remaining, Annett was running in seventh and hoping for a caution flag. Knowing their fuel window was coming to a close, the No. 62 Rusty Wallace Racing crew was forced to make a green flag pit stop for right side tires and fuel on lap 181. The Pilot Flying J Toyota Camry came off pit road in 15th. Only 18 laps of the race remained, and Annett worked hard to make up for track position lost under the green flag stop. With part of the top-12 cars being on a different pit cycle and able to make it to the finish on fuel, Annett was scored 13th at the conclusion of the race.
"We had a great car this weekend, but with the final 57 laps under green, pit strategy played out in the end and we didn't get the finish we deserved," said Annett, "The Pilot Flying J team was on top of their game, and we ran a lot better than the numbers show. It feels good to battle with Cup drivers you see in the top-five every weekend and race lap after lap with them. I'm excited about the gains we made this weekend and look forward to taking this momentum into Bristol."
Crew chief Jason Overstreet said, "Our Vegas car was really good. We definitely have a solid package now to tune on for our races at intermediate tracks. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year with this team."
The Nationwide Series schedule runs competition-free next week before Rusty Wallace Racing's No. 62 Pilot Flying J team heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Scott's EZ Seed 300 on Saturday, March 19. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Flying J calls Bristol Motor Speedway their home track, so Annett and his team are looking forward to continuing the momentum from this weekend's strong run into another solid weekend at Bristol for Pilot Flying J.
-source: rusty wallace racing