CONCORD, N.C. – Announced earlier today, Michael Annett will return to the driver’s seat of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Annett suffered a broken and dislocated sternum after an accident during the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Daytona International Speedway. He was cleared by medical doctors, along with NASCAR officials, to compete in this weekend’s NNS race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, following an MRI on Monday afternoon.
This weekend will be Annett’s 140th career NNS start and his eighth start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His best start and finish at the mile-and-a-half oval came last year, starting 13th and earning a 10th-place finish, for his first top-10 at the track.
EFS returns to the No. 43 Ford as a primary partner for the second season in a row. The company provides an easy way for customers in the transportation industry to make payments on-the-go and served as the primary partner for the fall race at Kansas Speedway last season.
Fans will have several chances to meet Annett this week. He will participate in RPM’s Fan Appreciation Day on Thursday, May 23rd and will sign autographs from 11 a.m. to Noon ET with teammates Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose along with NASCAR Hall-of-Famers Richard Petty and Dale Inman. Wristbands for the autograph session will be available beginning at 8 a.m. ET the day of the event. Annett will also sign autographs on Friday, May 24th in Uptown Charlotte at the Creative Loafing Area of Speed Street from 1-3 p.m. ET.
Comments from the No. 43 EFS Ford Mustang driver Michael Annett: “Obviously, I can’t wait to get back into the No. 43. It has been a long three months, and I am more than ready to jump back in the car. The accident at Daytona was disappointing for our team, but I’m very grateful for the amount of support I had from the team, NASCAR, family, friends and fans and not to mention the outstanding medical team that helped me through all of this. While it was really hard to be on the sidelines, I realize that it was even more important to heal properly.
“It’s pretty cool to have EFS on the car for my first race back. They were on the car last year, and it’s great to have them back again. Their continued support means a lot to our team. Hopefully, we can have a strong run for them this weekend.
“It’s always fun to race at Charlotte. Since it’s a ‘home’ race for most of the teams, it’s cool to see so many family and friends get to experience what we do every weekend. It’s a fast mile-and-a-half track and we typically run well at the bigger tracks, so hopefully we can get a decent run my first time back in the car.”
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Charlotte: “The entire team is really excited to have Michael back in the car. We had such high hopes for a good season, since the end of 2012 was so good for us. We were disappointed after Daytona, but Reed (Sorenson) came in and did a good job and kept the team going. Now that we have Michael back, we can get back to work on fine tuning this program and building it around him.
“The schedule has worked out really well for us with the additional testing time added on Wednesday. In the beginning, we’ll give him a little bit of time just to knock the rust off since he hasn’t been in the car for three months. After that, it’s back to business. In the last three months, we’ve been working on a lot of different set-ups and different things for the cars, so this test session is welcomed. It will give us some low pressure hours and give Michael a chance to get back into the groove of things.
“Charlotte is Charlotte. You have to be careful about how you practice and what you call ‘good’ and what you call ‘bad.’ The main question is, ‘At what time during the day do you race?,’ and that is what your focal point is. This track changes by the hour, all day long, and obviously the guys with a lot of experience and good notes can keep up with that. You’ve got to know that your car is going to behave a certain way at 12 o’clock and it won’t behave like that at four o’clock. You have to keep that in mind while you’re testing/practicing, and when it comes to the race, you have to put it all together.”
Chassis History: Lopez and the No. 43 crew will bring chassis number 729. It is the same chassis the team took to Auto Club Speedway earlier in the year, where Reed Sorenson qualified the car 19th and finished 17th.