Michael Annett and the No. 43 team finished sixth in last year's inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year they head to the two-and-a-half mile track looking for more.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) returns to the historic track this weekend for just the second time. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez led the team to last year's top-10 finish with little knowledge on how the Nationwide cars would perform at Indy. This year, his notebook is a little bit more extensive and will give Annett the ability to compete for the win in Saturday's event.
Old Wisconsin, will return to the No. 43 Ford for the second year in a row. The popular snack brand was featured on Annett's car during last year's race in Atlanta and will feature its Snack Sticks on the quarter panel of the No. 43 this weekend at Indy. Pilot Flying J currently carries a variety of the family-owned Old Wisconsin products in its 600 retail locations across North America. In conjunction with the partnership, Old Wisconsin Snack Sticks are two for $3.00 at any Pilot or Flying J location for the month of July.
Fans will have a few chances to meet Annett this weekend. Stop by the Pilot Travel Centers in Shelbyville from 3 to 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 26th (1851 W. 400 N. Shelbyville, IN 46176) to meet the driver of the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Old Wisconsin Ford. Annett will also attend the NNS Autograph Session on Saturday, July 27 from 10-11 a.m. ET, located in the pavilion in the infield at IMS. Wristbands for the session will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis and distribution will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning in the Pagoda Plaza.
Comments from the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Old Wisconsin Ford Mustang driver Michael Annett:
"I'm looking forward to going to Indy; it's such a historic track with so much prestige. We finished sixth there last year and picked up the Dash 4 Cash bonus. We now have some notes to work from and we should be able to compete in the top-five and hopefully for the win on Saturday. It will only be the second time the Nationwide Series is racing here and it's nice that we have a strong footing already.
"It's also going to be a fun weekend because we have Old Wisconsin on the car again this year. They partnered with us last year in Atlanta and it's really great to have them back. They are a family-owned company, and their values are a perfect fit for our race team. It's really cool to see it all come together and a bonus is that Pilot Flying J customers will get to take advantage of a great deal as part of their promotion with this weekend's race."
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Indy:
"We'll use everything from last year's sixth-place finish and take it into consideration for this year. We were happy to finish sixth in the inaugural race but always looking to be a little better. The way the restart happened at the end of the race it could've been anyone's game but we knew where we were weak at and that's definitely what we're going to work on in practice. We've got a much better notebook now on where we need to be in practice and where we need to be during the race. We didn't have that last year, it was all guess work. We did a good job last year but looking to get a much better result this year. Nationwide cars are their own beast and its one of the frustrating things that we really can't do what the Cup cars are doing and the Cup cars can't do what we're doing, just because we have two different sets of rules on the front packages.
"Strategy for Indy is to get a very good balance through the corners. If you can go through the corners fast you can go through the straightaways fast. Obviously, Indy has the longest straightaways of any race track we go to all year long so it's key that the two corners that lead to the straightaways is what we're going to focus on. You also need to make sure that you have good gas mileage. Not only is it so big that if you run out of gas after you leave pit road, you're in trouble, but just having a one lap advantage can make a big difference.