Michael Annett started the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International from the 19th position and quickly gained three spots in just the first lap to be scored in 16th coming to the stripe. By Lap 7, Annett had worked his way up to 14th-place when the first caution flag of the day flew for debris on the frontstretch. Having only a few laps on his tires, crew chief Philippe Lopez elected not to bring the Pilot Flying J Ford onto pit road. During the yellow flag period Annett relayed to the team his car was very neutral all the way around, and overall he was happy with how it was driving.
Restarting in 14th on Lap 9, Annett maintained his position inside the top 15 until Lopez called him into the pits for a routine green-flag pit stop on Lap 20. The No. 43 crew bolted on four fresh tires, added fuel and made air pressure adjustments to both rear tires during the initial stop of the day in an attempt to tighten up the car. After the rest of the field had cycled through green-flag stops, Annett began to methodically move toward the front and was scored in 12th at Lap 37.
Continuing to move though the field, Annett communicated to Lopez and crew that the car was beginning to lose grip as the run went on, but overall he was still pretty neutral. At Lap 41, the halfway mark, the Pilot Flying J machine was scored just inside the top 10 in ninth position.
On Lap 49, Annett was racing hard when his No.43 machine slid off the track and picked up some grass on the front grill. Just one lap later, Annett keyed the mic to let the team know he was beginning to overheat, and he was coming into the pits to get the car serviced. At Lap 50, Annett came down pit road and the crew went to work cleaning the grass off the grill and adding four fresh tires and fuel.
Restarting near the middle of the 43-car field, Annett had his work cut out for him as he began to again methodically drive toward the front. A caution on Lap 58 allowed him to make up some ground as Lopez decided to keep Annett on track when other teams elected to pit. With Just 22 laps remaining, Annett was running in the 16th position.
Two late-race cautions, for debris on the track, helped Annett to gain a few spots and when the green flag flew on Lap 80 to restart the race for the final time he was scored in 13th. With just two laps to go Annett never gave up and drove his way to a hard-earned 11th-place finish at the end of the day.
Annett’s 11th-place finish marks his 13th finish of 11th or better this season. The Iowa native sits in the sixth spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings heading into Montreal next weekend.
Annett’s Thoughts After the Race: “We’ll take an 11th-place finish at Watkins Glen. These road course races are so unpredictable, and Watkins Glen hasn’t been my best race track in the past. I’m happy we were able to bring the Pilot Flying J Ford home in one piece. I was hoping we could get one more spot at the end to make it a top-10 finish, but overall I’m happy with 11th. I think our team learned some things here at The Glen we can take into Montreal next week, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we can improve and hopefully grab a top-10 or better finish next weekend.”