Michael Annett Raybestos Rookie of the Race at Gateway Madison, Ill. (July 20, 2009) -- Germain Racing's Michael Annett was the highest finishing rookie candidate in Saturday's Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo at Gateway...
Michael Annett Raybestos Rookie of the Race at Gateway
Madison, Ill. (July 20, 2009) -- Germain Racing's Michael Annett was the highest finishing rookie candidate in Saturday's Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo at Gateway International Raceway, earning Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors.
Annett was 13th in both Nationwide Series practice sessions on Friday at Gateway, but the team had an unforeseen issue when they went out to qualify on Saturday afternoon, and the young driver started the race in 38th. Driving from the back of the pack to secure his second top-10 finish of the season, Annett finished the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo in seventh as the highest finishing rookie and with the most green flag passes of any driver. This was Annett's second seventh place finish of the 2009 Nationwide Series season, with the first being at Kentucky Speedway in June.
"It was a battle all night. We started 38th in the field, but it was great to see our No. 15 team never give up and just keep moving the car closer to the front," said Annett. "We've struggled some this season, but we've been aiming for consistency. Earning this top-10 finish is definitely a good start to getting where we'd like to be."
Annett was up 10 spots to 28th in the first five laps of the 200 lap race. The rookie drove his No. 15 Ventrilo Toyota Camry into the top-20 by lap 30 with lap times consistent with those of the top-eight drivers. Battling for the lucky dog pass, Annett earned the free pass for the fourth restart of the race on lap 95. Now on the lead lap, Annett was working his way from 17th into the top-15.
Only taking tires and gassing up on pit stops, the No. 15 Germain Racing pit crew encouraged Annett to conserve fuel during the last 75 laps, worried that with fuel they would be 3 laps short of making it all the way if the team didn't make another stop.
The seventh yellow flag of the night was thrown on lap 176. Annett was 8th at the call of the caution, and under the direction of Crew Chief Mike Hillman Sr., the No. 15 came to pit road and opted to take only two right side tires and a fuel top-off.
Restarting in 6th with only 19 laps to go, Annett drove into the top-five and up to fourth on lap 183. In a strong battle against some of the top competitors in the series, Annett finished seventh in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo in the Ventrilo sponsored No. 15.
An excited Annett said, "We're really happy with our seventh place finish tonight. I'm really proud of the entire No. 15 Germain Racing group and pleased with the calls Mike Hillman Sr. made on pit road, especially with the two tire stop at the end that put us in position for the last 15 lap run. I'm happy that we were able to earn a top-10 finish with the folks from Ventrilo there to see it."
Looking forward to the next two weeks of Nationwide Series racing, Annett noted, "Our short track program just keeps improving. With two more short track races coming up in the next two weeks with ORP and Iowa, we're definitely looking forward to it."
Annett heads to O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Indiana this week, up one spot in driver points to 14th. The No. 15 Germain Racing team will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday.