Michael Annett

Photos by Daniel McFadin

Gallery: Coca-Cola 600 patriotic paint schemes

Leave a comment

With Memorial Day weekend here, many NASCAR teams will be racing patriotic paint schemes in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the unique schemes that will compete in NASCAR’s longest race.

All photos by Daniel McFadin.

Landon Cassill – No. 00 Chevrolet

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford

Ryan Newman – No. 6 Ford

Aric Almirola – No. 10 Ford

Ty Dillon – No. 13 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Ford

Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Toyota

 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet

Corey LaJoie – No. 32 Ford

 

Michael McDowell – No. 34 Ford

Matt Tifft – No. 36 Ford

David Ragan – No. 36 Ford

Ryan Preece – No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet

Cody Ware – No. 51 Ford

Bayley Currey – No. 52 Ford

BJ McLeod – No. 53 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman – No. 88 Chevrolet

Xfinity Series

Michael Annett – No. 1 Chevrolet

Jefferey Earnhardt – No. 18 Toyota

Ryan Sieg – No. 39 Chevrolet

Mike Harmon – No. 74 Chevrolet

Christopher Bell takes third Xfinity win of season at Dover

3 Comments

Christopher Bell rallied in the second half to win his second straight race at Dover International Speedway, the third win of this season and the 11th of his Xfinity Series career in Saturday’s Allied Steel Buildings 200.

In addition to the win, Bell also earned a cool $100,000 as the highest finishing Xfinity Dash 4 Cash driver, out-dueling Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Gray Gaulding.

Bell led 44 of the race’s 200 laps around the 1-mile concrete oval. Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by Reddick, Cole Custer and Briscoe.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had really fast race cars but just weren’t able to capitalize on it,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “This one is really out to my pit crew. They did a great job to get me out first to control the restarts. I knew once we got to the front, we were going to be tough to beat.

“This is one of my favorite tracks because you can move around, kind of find different lines and get going.”

Click here for full results.

Click here for the updated Xfinity Series point standings.

Custer led a race-high 156 laps but fell back in the latter quarter of the race as Bell would not be denied.

“It’s really frustrating when you lead that many laps,” Custer told FS1. “You just can’t give up your track position here. Everybody wants to win here at Dover, that’s why it’s so frustrating.

“It’s about the hardest track to pass at that we go to. We just couldn’t get it all back. We were so good and feel like we didn’t take advantage of a great car today. It’s good we had so much speed to compete with those guys, but we need to figure out a way of beating them every weekend.”

Finishing sixth through 10th were Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith and Michael Annett.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer (led all 45 laps)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer (led all 45 laps)

NOTABLE: Saturday was the final of the four Dash 4 Cash races. It’s also the second time Bell has won the $100,000 top prize this year in those four races.

WHAT’S NEXT: Alsco 300, May 25, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric are fastest in two Xfinity practices at Dover

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Austin Cindric was fastest in Friday’s second and final Xfinity Series practice at Dover International Speedway.

Cindric was one of only two Ford-powered drivers in the top seven, with a best speed 152.749 mph, tops among the 33 cars that took to the track for the session. However, Cindric’s speed was more than 3 mph slower than Tyler Reddick‘s field-leading speed in the first practice session earlier in the day.

Riley Herbst was second fastest (152.698 mph), followed by Justin Haley (152.659 mph), Tyler Reddick (152.297 mph), who was fastest in the first practice earlier in the day, and Zane Smith (152.233 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Cole Custer (152.033 mph), Noah Gragson (151.515), Justin Allgaier (151.496), John Hunter Nemechek (151.330) and Brandon Brown (151.286).

Qualifying takes place Saturday, prior to the Allied Steel Buildings 200 Xfinity Series race.

Click here for the full speed chart.

FIRST PRACTICE SESSION:

Tyler Reddick was fastest in the first of Friday’s two Xfinity Series practices at Dover International Speedway.

Reddick, in a Chevrolet, was the only driver over 155 mph, covering the one-mile concrete oval at 155.918 mph, hitting that speed in the closing minutes of the session.

Cole Custer and his Ford were second fastest (154.579 mph), followed by Kaz Grala’s Chevrolet (154.540 mph), Zane Smith’s Chevy (154.222) and Austin Cindric’s Ford (153.899 mph)

Sixth through 10th were Justin Allgaier (153.715 mph), Chase Briscoe (153.636), Christopher Bell (153.309), Michael Annett (152.834) and Noah Gragson (152.672).

A total of 33 drivers took to the track. A 34th driver, Tommy Joe Martins, did not record a speed.

Click here for the speed chart from Friday’s first practice.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Michael Annett feels like ‘I belong here’ after best start of Xfinity career

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Michael Annett‘s dog could talk.

The owner of three dogs, Annett has had Paisley, a miniature golden doodle, for 13 years.

That’s more than the entirety of his full-time NASCAR career, which began in 2009.

Along with his girlfriend at the time, Paisley was a passenger in Annett’s car in February during the seven-hour drive back from Daytona International Speedway a day after Annett scored his first career Xfinity Series win.

“She’s seen it all,” Annett told NBC Sports. “I’m sure she was pinching herself, too. It was just pretty special to have that time in the car, honestly. It wasn’t a bad thing I drove because it gave me those seven hours to really digest everything we did the day before is pretty special.”

Annett’s win locked him into the Xfinity playoffs, which he was unable to take part in last year in his second season with JR Motorsports. Annett and what was then the No. 5 team finished 16th in a season that saw Annett work with two crew chiefs for most of the campaign’s 33 races.

The second crew chief, the man who leads Annett’s No. 1 team now, was Travis Mack.

A former car chief at Hendrick Motorsports for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne’s crew chief at Leavine Family Racing, Mack joined Annett’s team after 19 races had been completed.

The change came as the series entered Annett’s worst stretch of races.

“He came in and we had three road courses (Mid-Ohio, Road America, Watkins Glen) and Bristol right away,” Annett said. “I told him leading up to it, ‘This is where I’m the worst, road courses. I’m sorry they’re throwing you to the wolves like this.'”

Annett didn’t finish better than 12th at the road courses, but he snagged a seventh-place finish at Bristol, his first top 10 through 22 races. He’d round out the season with three, including a ninth in the finale in Miami.

“We left Homestead everybody was just really pumped for February to come,” Annett said.

Annett approached the ensuing offseason differently than at any other point in his career.

“A lot of guys when you leave Homestead we kind of scatter,” Annett said. “Honestly, the whole offseason I was at the shop almost every day. Team lunches with guys, dinners with the guys. The crew chief, Travis Mack and I, working out every morning together. Just always bouncing ideas back and forth and if it wasn’t about racing it was team camaraderie and just building that relationship, wanting to make sure everyone on that 1 team’s going to hold the end of the rope for you if you’re hanging by it. That’s what you need, you gotta to have everybody bought into the same goal and I think just building that relationship and unity`has been a huge benefit for us.”

It didn’t just benefit Annett at Daytona.

After eight races, Annett is off to the best start of his NASCAR career. He has two top fives (Daytona and Las Vegas) and five top 10s, two shy of the seven total he had when he returned to Xfinity from Cup in 2017.

“Going to Atlanta and being fast in practice, didn’t have the best race, finished 12th. Last year at that point, man, we’d be high-fiving for a 12th,” Annett said. “Just continued to grow and it’s still continuing to grow. We’re not even close to where we want to be right now.”

Annett’s performance in 2018 came back to bite him early in the season when two of the first three races had qualifying rained out. That caused the field to be established by last year’s owner points. He started 16th at Atlanta and Las Vegas.

As a result Annett missed out on getting more stage points than he thought he was capable of.

“That put us in a pretty big hole right away,” Annett said. “But even those races, honestly is when we got the most (12 total). It’s hard to say. I’m not a genie or anything, but I feel like we’d have more bonus points at this point, but I still feel like those were some of our best races for some reason.”

With his Daytona win and being locked into the playoffs, Annett’s team has taken gambles he’s never been able to, like staying out on old tires in the middle of Stage 1 at Richmond. It didn’t work out and Annett finished the race in 13th.

“It took a little bit (of adjusting) just because I was hungry for those top fives and when you don’t have a top-five car you know if it doesn’t work out you’re going to be outside the top 10,” Annett said. “That part’s been tough. Really had to get in my head and figure out what’s going to help us go through rounds in the playoffs. Once I really got that in my head it was easy.”

What has Annett learned about himself as a driver in the months since Mack was brought on board?

“I think that just that I belong here,” Annett said. “At some point you beat yourself down long enough you start to wonder if you remember how to drive a race car or if you belong. But once you start to show that consistency and you’re passing cars that you know that could have a chance to win a race and you’re driving by them, it’s moments like that. When you’re driving past race-winning cars that’s when you start to get that confidence and ‘Yeah, you still remember how to do this.'”

Michael Annett cheering on former teammate in Stanley Cup Playoffs

Leave a comment

Long before Michael Annett sped around race tracks in NASCAR, he sped around skating rinks as a junior hockey league player.

His final season of competition came in the 2003-04 season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League.

You can watch the above video from 2015 for more on Annett’s hockey career.

While Annett’s life took him to auto racing, his captain that year stuck with hockey.

It’s worked out for Joe Pavelski.

After breaking into the National Hockey League in 2006, Pavelski is in his 13th season playing for San Jose Sharks and is captain of the team as it competes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pavelski and the Sharks are down 2-1 in the best-of-seven-games, first-round series against the Las Vegas Knights. Game 4 is set for 10:30 p.m. ET today on NBCSN.

“I watch it as much as I can,” Annett told NBC Sports of the playoffs. “Watching (Pavelski) captain the San Jose Sharks sharks now is pretty cool. They got to get their act together if they’re going to beat the Knights. They got to pick it up a little bit. The intensity of playoff hockey is so much fun. You usually wait 15 minutes for a goal or a big play and it seems like if you blink you’re going to miss something in the playoffs, it’s just so much fun to watch.”

The JR Motorsports driver said he and Pavelski were “real close” during their year playing for the Black Hawks in Iowa.

“You get those 30 guys from all over the country that you can find to play for one team for a season, you all grow really close like brothers,” Annett said. “I’m just really proud of him. I know what it takes, I know how many hot, little kids are hockey players and that’s what they dream of doing. To see him still doing it at the level he is as the captain of a team that’s made the playoffs (in all but one of Pavelski’s 13 seasons), just really proud of him.”

He was probably really proud of Pavelski last week when he accidentally scored a goal with his jaw in Game 1 and lost a couple of teeth in the process.

While they don’t talk by phone anymore, Annett and his former captain do keep in touch.

“It’s all through Instagram messages,” Annett said, noting Pavelski reached out to him after his first Xfinity win in February at Daytona. “When somebody does something pretty cool you reach out and tell him that ‘That was pretty awesome, I’m still following you.'”

Michael Annett celebrates his win at Daytona in February.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Annett is 15 years removed from his hockey days and 11 years into his full-time NASCAR career.

Does he miss his hockey days? Only when the Stanley Cup is at stake.

“I really don’t miss it until the playoffs come around to be honest with you,” Annett said. “It’s the hardest time when the hockey is just so exciting, it’s so intense. You remember that camaraderie you had with the guys and how much hard works goes into a playoff run. This is the toughest time to watch.”

Here’s tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff schedule.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets; 7 p.m. ET on CNBC

New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins; 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues; 9:30 p.m. ET on CNBC

San Jose Sharks at Las Vegas Knights; 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

and on Facebook