Michael Annett and his No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS team continued to raise their own bar, earning a 26th-place finish Sunday night at Bristol Motor Speedway that serves as the team's best finish of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Annett, a Rookie of the Year candidate, qualified his Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) car 34th during Friday's knockout qualifying session. After a delayed start to the event due to inclement weather, he held his 34th-place running position, but went a lap down on the first green-flag run. A competition caution on lap 51 allowed him to pit for tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment that crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion felt would alleviate a poor handling condition.
A lap 60 caution flag would allow Annett to receive the beneficiary pass to earn a lap back. Because he accepted the free pass, by rule he could not pit. The handling on the No. 7 Chevrolet was neutral for Annett anyway, who gained four positions prior to a caution flag for another rain delay on lap 120.
Once the rain halted, Annett used the remaining three quarters of his race to pad his track position. Following another free pass earned on lap 155, green-flag runs prior to two pit stops - on laps 332 and 394 - allowed him to pick up six spots. In the final 100 laps of the race, he outlasted his surrounding competition, while nursing a car with a splitter hitting the track for the majority of the race's conclusion. On his final stop, Annett pitted while in the 27th-place position, took on the usual fuel and tires and an air pressure adjustments and exited with a spot gained. He held the 26th-place position for the remainder of the event.
MICHAEL ANNETT QUOTE:
"Things weren't perfect, but we made the best of them. We got the free pass twice and a few cautions came out that helped us work on the car. Our splitter was hitting the track for what seems like the final 200 laps. It was a wild race. There wasn't a whole lot of rubber laid down, so I don't know if anyone was handling perfectly. But it was a lot of fun."
Rising Star PR