Michael Annett, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver

Birth Date: June 23, 1986
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Current Residence: Mooresville, N.C.

Des Moines, Iowa’s Michael Annett is set to take on the toughest racing division in America – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – in 2014, which will be the culmination of a successful and rare cross-sport transition.

Believe it or not, hockey – not racing – was Annett’s first love. As a child, he had a natural talent for ice hockey and quickly advanced through the ranks. Annett caught the eye of regional and national scouts and joined a tier one AAA team, Team Illinois, at the age of 16 and led them to the 2002 Calgary Mac’s AAA Hockey Tournament Championship.

After a successful season with Team Illinois as the league’s leader in penalty minutes, Annett joined the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and earned honors as the 2004 USHL Most Improved Player. The Hawkeye native remained with the team for two seasons and earned a Clark Cup Championship. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, Annett opted to trade in his hockey skates for a steering wheel.

While time on the rink was a natural fit for Annett, so was life in the fast lane. He was born into a family with a rich heritage in auto racing and attended his first race, the famed Knoxville Nationals, just days after his birth. For several years, the Annett family served as owner and primary sponsor for World of Outlaws legend Sammy Swindell.

Annett’s name became synonymous with speed in 2007 because of his instant success in the ARCA Series. His series debut came at Iowa Speedway where the hometown favorite impressed the Hawkeye crowd by winning the pole and a third-place finish. The young driver padded his résumé with a pair of third-place qualifying efforts and top-10 finishes while making track debuts at Nashville Superspeedway and Gateway International Raceway.

Later that season, in his debut on the largest track on the ARCA tour, the famed Talladega Superspeedway, Annett was victorious. Driving a Pilot Travel Centers entry for Bill Davis Racing, he led 75 of 94 laps en route to his first career Stock Car victory.

During the offseason prior to 2008, Annett left his familiar surroundings in Iowa and moved to North Carolina after inking an agreement with Bill Davis Racing to participate in the ARCA Racing Series superspeedway events, a select number of races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and to participate in a rigorous testing program. The decision paid immediate dividends.

In the season-opening ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway, Annett led the final 32 laps, scoring his first win at the World Center of Racing. In four completed ARCA races that season, he averaged a finish of 4.75. In his initial NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, he finished sixth at The Milwaukee Mile, 11th at Memphis Motorsports Park and second at Kentucky Speedway.

Annett and Pilot Travel Centers moved to Germain Racing for the 2009 and 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series seasons. In his rookie season in America’s second most popular racing series, Annett earned four top-10 finishes and finished 10th in the final point standings. The following season, his average finish improved by one position.

For the 2011 season, Annett and Pilot Flying J joined forces with Rusty Wallace Racing to drive the organization’s No. 62 entry. Contending in his third full season in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, Annett finished the season ninth in championship points with seven top-10 finishes and an average finish of 16.

The best season of Annett’s career came in 2012 while driving the iconic No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports. He scored six top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes an averaged a finish position of 11.2. The highlights of his season included third-place finishes at Daytona and Dover International Speedway. Following a second season at RPM, Annett was ready to jump to the next level.

For 2014, Annett and Pilot Flying J join Tommy Baldwin Racing to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, competing for Rookie of the Year honors. Annett will drive the No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS in the country’s most-watched racing series.