The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) ventures to new territory this weekend as they head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. While NASCAR is new to the 2.25-mile road course, other notable series such as the IZOD IndyCar Series and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series are not.
Michael Annett and the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers team will use Thursday's practice sessions to get Annett accustomed to the newest track on the NNS circuit. While track time will be important this weekend, the Pilot Travel Centers team will have an advantage with road course ace Marcos Ambrose as their teammate at Mid-Ohio.
Annett's year in road course racing has been plagued with accidents. He was running in the top-five during a green-white-checkered finish at Road America when he was hit from behind and sent spinning into the barrier. Just one weekend ago at Watkins Glen International, Annett found himself in the 12th position on a late race restart but received front-end damage when the field checked up shortly after taking the green flag resulting in a 22nd-place finish.
The five-year NNS veteran has 13 road course starts. His highest starting position is 12th at Road America last year and highest finish is seventh at the same track in 2011.
Comments from the No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Ford Mustang driver Michael Annett:
"I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio, although I think it will definitely be a challenge going to a new track for the first time. We're going to use a lot of practice time just logging laps, but we'll also need to work on being as competitive as possible in a new setting. The good thing is that I took some time earlier this year to go out there and drive the course as part of their driving school program, so I've been on the track before. We'll also have Marcos Ambrose as a teammate this weekend, so I'm looking forward to getting some tips from him."
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Mid-Ohio:
"Obviously, everybody is going into the weekend blind. There are a few drivers that have had experience at Mid-Ohio in the past, such as fellow Ford driver Sam Hornish Jr., and those guys are going to have the advantage. We're going to follow their lead, since they are the ones you're going to want to follow on the race track and who are probably going to set the mark. Since we've never been there we don't really know what's fast and what's slow. We are lucky because we will have Marcos Ambrose there to lean on.
"Since it's a new track, we will log as many laps as possible. Normally we don't do that because Michael has been to them and he knows what he needs, but in this case we will give him time around the race track. Time will be more valuable than a spring or a shock or anything that I can do to the car."