Annett Salvages 29th-Place Finish After Timely Caution
Michael Annett and his No. 7 Accell Construction Chevrolet SS team waited an entire day longer than expected to make their second start of the season on a 1.5-mile intermediate track. In a mid-afternoon race on a Monday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie scored a 29th-place finish, thanks to a well-timed caution flag, in his first career start at Texas Motor Speedway.
After qualifying 27th on Saturday, Annett maintained that position until a competition caution on lap 48. Electing to take four new tires, the No. 7 team lost four spots before the restart, which Annett promptly reclaimed prior to a pit stop under green-flag conditions on lap 92. The short-pitting effort by crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion picked the team up three positions - they'd gain four spots in this manner during the race's three green-flag pit cycles - that placed him 24th at the conclusion of the first third of the event.
Handling proved to be a moving target for Annett during the second third of the race. In subsequent stops, Manion and crew worked to rid the No. 7 of too-tight, and then too-loose, handling conditions in the center of the track's turns. A bevy of air pressure adjustments help stabilize Annett's Chevrolet for the final haul to the finish.
In the waning laps of the race, Manion asked Annett to go into fuel conservation mode in an attempt to maximize finishing position. With his lap times dropping by about a second and a half, the No. 7 team's gamble appeared ready to bust until a caution for a car with a blown tire with two laps to go prompted the field to pit and attempt a green-white-checkered finish.
Coasting to pit road on fumes, Annett took four tires, a can of fuel and no adjustments. He lined back up for a frantic two-lap shootout for the finish, after which he finished 29th, a result better than the one he would have had if the race had stayed green. Annett and his No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team averaged a running position of 26.7 for the afternoon.
MICHAEL ANNETT QUOTE:
"That last caution was timely for us, because we weren't going to make it to the finish on fuel. It might not have shown in the final result, but thanks to the hard work of Bono and the guys, I feel like we made some improvements over our last intermediate race (at Las Vegas in March). The TBR pit crew was on its game today - we gained some ground during the green-flag stops. We're certainly taking steps in the right direction with our intermediate program.
"Thanks to Accell Construction for being our partner for the race. They're a fun group and we're happy to have them on our side."
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