Michael Annett and his No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS team scored their best finish of the young NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, with a 29th-place result at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Annett qualified his Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) car 38th during Friday's knockout qualifying session, but quickly pounced on some ill-handling racecars in front of him during the initial green-flag run of Sunday's race. He was in 29th by the time the first caution flag fell on lap 17.
Crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion stuck to air pressure and track bar adjustments in an effort to neutralize the No. 7's handling on a finicky intermediate track. The constant adjusting - a theme throughout the day - allowed Annett to maintain position without fighting handling, something that was of dire concern to Annett's competition. The team averaged a 29th-place running position for the afternoon.
During the third green-flag run, Annett fell off the lead lap. He and Manion kept an eye out for opportunities to avoid falling further behind. One such chance emerged on lap 156, when a debris caution allowed them to earn a wave-around, lining them up on a restart behind the lead lap cars instead of in front of the leader. That cushion provided Annett with time to diagnose the car's loose-handling condition, which Manion would later remedy with adjustments during a lap 195 pit stop.
Running in 26th and attempting to conserve fuel with less than 20 laps to go, Annett felt his Chevrolet SS running empty and pitted under green-flag conditions before gas ran out. It'd be the day's only real adversity - the stop dropped him to 31st in the running order - but Annett picked up two more positions in the final laps to secure the 29th-place finish.
MICHAEL ANNETT QUOTE:
"I thought we did a really good job of maintaining a handling balance. I noticed a lot of other drivers struggling with handling, so I'm glad that we stayed on top of it as well as we did. I'm confident that we can make some gains going forward on intermediate tracks like this one. This is the style of racing that dominates our schedule, and I thought it was a good learning experience for us."
Rising Star PR