Thursday, July 2, 2015

Michael Annett Makes a Pit Stop on the Way to Daytona

Annett at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts & Scuffs
HScott Motorsports driver Michael Annett isn’t completely sure he’s a fan of restrictor plate racing yet, even as he heads to Daytona International Speedway for Sunday’s Coke Zero 400.

“I’ll let you know on Sunday night,” said Annett in a recent interview.

The second-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver picked up an ARCA Racing Series win in his first career visit to Daytona in 2008. Five years later, he was leaving the Florida superspeedway en route to the hospital after a hard wreck in the 2013 Xfinity Series opener.

“I’ve been here before and brought home a trophy. I’ve been here before and went to Halifax (Health Medical Center) and had my sternum broken,” Annett said. “It’s a crap shoot at these restrictor plate races. With a smaller team like we have, I think these races are the best chance we have to win a race, so we circle the two Daytonas and two Talladegas on the schedule as races that we have a legitimate chance to win, but there are so many things that are out of your control. It’s just a crap shoot – you never know what can happen on each lap.”

Before heading to Daytona this weekend, however, Annett and the No. 46 Pilot Flying J crew stopped by the St. Augustine, FL Flying J Travel Plaza to kick off the Road Warrior Program, where they pumped gas and diesel for customers and participated in a meet-and-greet.

“We’re having a great time right now,” said Annett. “It’s the start of the Road Warrior program with Pilot and Flying J and the hauler’s here, the car’s here, the whole team’s out here pumping gas for these over-the-road truck drivers and washing their windshields and it’s a really cool deal that Pilot Flying J is doing right now.
Annett at Texas Motor Speedway
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts & Scuffs

“It’s a chance for a race team like ourselves to give back – I don’t think there’s a lot of truck drivers that can say that a NASCAR driver or crew chief or tire changer is washing their windshield, so it’s a chance for us to give back to the truck drivers who a lot of people, I think, underappreciate.”

Fan interaction, such as the “pit stop” in St. Augustine, is something Annett has come to appreciate and enjoy since moving through the ranks in NASCAR.

“I never thought I’d be in this position,” he said. “Growing up in a trucking family, I understand completely how hard these guys work. Not only truck drivers but the fans that come to the track each weekend, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do at the track if it wasn’t for them. There’s times where you look at your schedule and say, man, I don’t want to go do that, but when you show up and see the smiles on their faces and how much they appreciate you being there, it definitely makes it worth it.”

Annett at Dover International Speedway, spring 2015.
Credit: Beth Reinke/Skirts & Scuffs
Annett grew up in auto racing. His father was a dirt track racing team owner, most notably for sprint car legend Sammy Swindell.

“I was at a race track when I was three days old, and being around guys like Sammy (Swindell) and Steve Kinser and Dave (Blaney) … that’s when I fell in love with it.”

His father, in a surprising way, was influential in Annett’s choice to go the asphalt road instead of the dirt road.

“That was my dad’s decision. He said he’d put enough money into dirt racing and didn’t get anything back from it, so if you’re gonna make money you need to be on asphalt.”

 Annett finished 13th in the Daytona 500 in February, currently his best finish of the season. 

“Hopefully we can repeat what we did in the 500 – or get a little bit better."


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