Annett Rallies from Late Penalty for 19th-Place Finish in Fontana
FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2014) – Michael Annett secured the best outing of his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Sunday at Auto Club Speedway when he wheeled his No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS to a 19th-place finish, which came as a result of a frenzied rally following a late-race pit road penalty.
Starting 23rd, Annett and his Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team spent the first quarter of the 200-lap race troubleshooting some issues with grip while being mindful of tire issues affecting his competitors. Annett’s No. 7 dropped to 32nd in the running order during the run and as low as 40th following the first pit stop of the race, but a lap 43 stop for a track bar adjustment helped right some of the initial ailments.
For the remainder of the race, the Cup Series rookie enjoyed forward progress on the track. From laps 56 to 68, Annett climbed to 27th, then a double down on wedge adjustments by crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion on consecutive pit stops (laps 69 and 85) helped in Annett driving into the top 20 of the running order by lap 115. When he stopped during a caution flag pit cycle on lap 119, he was running 19th and looking to fine-tune some handling issues that would nag him for the remainder of the race.
Annett was sliding the nose while maintaining a top-20 position – he ran as high as 16th – in the second half of the event, but a penalty for a tire leaving his pit box on lap 167 sent him to the tail end of the longest line on an ensuing restart, dropping Annett to 29th. Undaunted and still on the lead lap, Annett clawed his way back into the top 20 and withstood a frantic green-white-checkered restart to finish 19th.
MICHAEL ANNETT QUOTE:
“This was a really good day for us. The feel of the race changed from the beginning of the run to the end of the run because of all the tire wear. The nose of the car was sliding for most of the race, we didn’t have right rear grip for stretches, but I’m grateful that the TBR team gave me a Pilot Flying J Chevrolet that had good speed and Bono (Manion, crew chief) worked on it when we had the opportunities. It was fun to be a part of, and I’m sure it had to be fun for the fans.”