Michael Annett Holds Off the Field and Wins the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona

AP Photo

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – RIS – Michael Annett won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 NASCAR Xfinity race on Saturday.  It was his first national series win in what turned out to be a race with little passing, and  many frustrated drivers.

Annett has a career that spans 345 races in three series. He gave JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister and Rick Hendrick, its fourth win in five years at Daytona.

"A lot of people have been down on Michael Annett for a while now," Earnhardt said.

He likened Annett's opportunity driving the No. 1 Chevrolet for JRM, a competitive Xfinity Series team, to when the late Dale Earnhardt gave Michael Waltrip a ride in 2001. It was Waltrip's first ride in a car capable of winning and he ended a 462-race losing streak by winning the Daytona 500 in his debut race for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

"It reminds me of an Earnhardt giving a Michael a chance years ago to show his potential," Earnhardt Jr. said about Annett's victory.

Annett followed Austin Hill, winner of the Truck Series opener, and Harrison Burton, winner of the ARCA opener, as first-time winners since last Saturday. The Daytona 500 is Sunday.

Justin Allgaier finished second for a 1-2 Chevrolet finish but didn't have an opportunity to pass Annett for the lead. The racing was largely single-file and strung out, the opposite of Friday night's crash-marred Truck Series race.

"I was disappointed I couldn't make a run, but a great way to start the season, come out of here second with some points," said Allgaier, who praised Annett for earning the victory.

"He has tried so hard and the effort and time he's put in into it."

Brandon Jones was third in Toyota's debut of the Supra in the Xfinity Series.

Ryan Sieg was fourth in a Chevrolet, followed by Austin Cindric in a Ford for Team Penske.

Annett has longtime sponsorship from Pilot Flying J and has taken it to various teams trying to find a competitive ride. He ran three full seasons in the Cup Series but didn't score a single top-10 finish in 109 career starts. So Annett in 2017 stepped down to the Xfinity Series and spent the last two years driving for JR Motorsports.

"This is amazing -- eight years in the series," Annett said while crediting his team for sticking with him "through the hard times when everyone counts me out. Our slogan this year is 'One team, one dream, one goal.'"

Earnhardt Jr. credited crew chief Travis Mack with guiding Annett's team. Mack had previously worked at Hendrick Motorsports but moved to a crew chief job at Leavine Family Racing that lasted just a few months last season. When Mack became available, JRM grabbed him.

"I knew I needed him here with Michael Annett. That combination would be great -- so we're seeing the results of that," Earnhardt said. "I'm extremely happy for Travis Mack. It's been a tough road for him, equally tough road for Michael Annett. It's been a day of redemption for both of those guys."

Jeffrey Earnhardt led 29 laps and finished 15th in his debut for Joe Gibbs Racing. Earnhardt has taken a new approach to his career and has decided to run a partial scheduled with a winning team rather than a full year with a smaller team.

Jeffery Earnhardt raced with a tribute helmet to his grandfather, the late Earnhardt Sr., that showed a shirtless Earnhardt Sr. on a horse. He said his lack of experience leading races played a factor Saturday.

"Just lack of experience. I'll get better at it," Jeffery Earnhardt said. "This was the first time to actually get to race upfront like that. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully we continue to grow this program and grow myself as a driver. We won't let them get away from us anymore."

Austin Cindric, who will take over the No.22 Team Penske Mustang in 2019, had a solid consistent day, finishing fifth.

“I was able to generate runs a few times but it was really difficult because there were some really strong cars leading the front pack and I don't think we had enough strong cars from 10th to fifth to really make something happen,” Cindric said. “I think we lost the 10 a little too early and could have made a run to go to the lead. I will take a top-five out of this deal. We got stage points in each stage which is a good way to start the year.”

Unofficial Race Results for the 38th Annual NASCAR Racing Experience 300
at Daytona - Saturday, February 16, 2019
Daytona International Speedway - Daytona Beach, FL - 2.5 - Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 120 Laps - 300. Miles
Stage 2 Pos
Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Stage 1 Pos Pts Status Tms Laps Playoff Pts
1 3 1 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J/American Heart Assoc Chevrolet 120 9 42 Running 1 45 5
2 15 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 120 7 39 Running
3 16 19 Brandon Jones Juniper Toyota 120 5 2 49 Running 3 8
4 8 39 Ryan Sieg Larry's Hard Lemonade Chevrolet 120 7 37 Running
5 13 22 Austin Cindric MoneyLion Ford 120 10 3 41 Running 1 2
6 11 20 Christopher Bell Rheem Toyota 120 8 6 39 Running 1 4
7 21 93 Jeff Green Nightowl Contractors Inc Chevrolet 120 30 Running
8 14 23 John Hunter Nemechek # Fire Alarm Services INC Chevrolet 120 3 37 Running
9 1 2 Tyler Reddick Pinnacle Financial Partners Chevrolet 120 9 8 33 Running 2 4
10 7 8 Chase Elliott(i) Aftershokz Chevrolet 120 4 0 Running
11 18 9 Noah Gragson # Switch Chevrolet 120 6 31 Running
12 10 98 Chase Briscoe # Nutri Chomps/Chewy.com Ford 120 25 Running
13 6 10 Ross Chastain Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet 120 2 1 43 Running 2 23 1
14 38 00 Cole Custer Jacob Companies Ford 120 23 Running
15 2 18 Jeffrey Earnhardt iK9 Toyota 120 4 5 35 Running 1 29
16 30 35 Joey Gase Medic Air Systems Inc/AGRI Supply Toyota 120 21 Running
17 4 11 Justin Haley # LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 120 1 10 31 Running 1 3 1
18 28 86 Brandon Brown # Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet 120 19 Running 1 2
19 22 66 Timmy Hill VSI Racing/Overkill Motorsports Toyota 120 18 Running
20 32 52 David Starr Whataburger Chevrolet 120 17 Running
21 17 4 Scott Lagasse Jr Rimrock Devlin Chevrolet 120 16 Running
22 24 36 Josh Williams JoeFroyo/All Sports Coffee Chevrolet 120 15 Running
23 20 38 Josh Bilicki DR Squatch Soap Chevrolet 120 14 Running
24 26 0 Garrett Smithley Flex Tape Chevrolet 120 13 Running
25 29 78 Vinnie Miller JAS Expedited Trucking LLC/Koolbox Toyota 120 12 Running
26 31 5 Matt Mills J.F. Electric Toyota 120 11 Running
27 35 15 BJ McLeod BTX Global Logistics/Run the Race Chevrolet 120 10 Running
28 34 13 Max Tullman Zoomi Toyota 120 9 Running
29 12 90 Caesar Bacarella Alpha Prine/MAXIM Chevrolet 119 8 Running
30 33 07 Ray Black II ISOKERN Fireplaces & Chimneys Chevrolet 119 7 Running
31 19 17 Chris Cockrum ADVANCED COMMS GROUP Chevrolet 118 6 Running
32 37 42 John Jackson James Carter Attorney at Law Toyota 118 5 Running
33 27 99 DJ Kennington LORDCO Auto Parts Toyota 113 4 Running
34 5 08 Gray Gaulding GGPURE.com Chevrolet 110 3 Running
35 36 74 Mike Harmon AIR One Heating and Cooling Chevrolet 108 2 Running
36 25 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet 90 1 Engine
37 9 12 Brad Keselowski(i) Fitzgerald USA Ford 71 0 Roof Hatch
38 23 01 Stephen Leicht OPAV Experience It Chevrolet 24 1 Overheating
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 58 Mins, 41 Secs. Average Speed: 151.664 MPH Margin of Victory: 0.116 Seconds
Stage 1 Top 10:
Stage 2 Top 10:

Caution Flags: 4 for 19 laps; Laps: 32-37 (Stage 1 Conclusion [5]); 62-67 (Stage 2 Conclusion [12]); 72-75 (Debris  [13]); 81-83 (#07, 18 Incident Backstretch [42]).
Lead Changes: 13 among 9 drivers; T. Reddick 0; J. Earnhardt 1-29; J. Haley # 30-32; R. Chastain 33; C. Bell 34-37; A. Cindric 38-39; B. Jones 40-41; R. Chastain 42-63; B. Jones 64-67; T. Reddick 68-70; B. Jones 71-72; T. Reddick 73; B. Brown # 74-75; M. Annett 76-120.
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race: February 23, 2019 - Atlanta Motor Speedway

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2019, Issue 2, Posted 10:55 PM, 02.16.2019