|Michael Annett meets a fan at the Pilot Travel Center in|
Lincoln, Alabama on Oct. 22
Credit: Patrick Roach/Pilot Flying J
“That’s the cool part about these restrictor plate races, it really levels the playing field, but you really do have to take it lap by lap,” said Annett in a recent interview. “I’ve had every strategy in the world of racing on these superspeedways over the past seven years and I’ve wrecked running second, I’ve wrecked running toward the back and the middle of the pack, and had success with those same ones.”
“It’s all about putting yourself in the right position at the right time at the end of the race. We can ride around for 498 miles, but it’s that last lap that matters. You’ve got to prove to the guys you’re racing around that you’re a car that’s going to be at the front at the end.”
Annett has won at both NASCAR restrictor plate tracks – Daytona and Talladega – in ARCA Racing Series competition, but these days it takes more than just past wins to succeed at those tracks. It takes some help from your competition as well.
“I know I can pull it off,” said Annett. “The biggest thing is trying to get people to work with you, gain respect from the guys throughout the day and getting them to trust a second-year guy in the series, showing them you’ve got a fast race car. No matter who’s behind the wheel, a guy wants to follow a car that he knows is going to the front.”
Annett is hoping to take his sponsor Pilot Flying J to the front this weekend and let people know about their new fresh baked pizza offering, the “unexpectedly awesome” PJ Fresh Pizza, which will be available initially at about 250 Pilot Flying J Travel Centers throughout the country. Annett and his No. 46 Pilot Flying J team were helping the company introduce their new product at a “pit stop” at the Pilot Travel Center in Lincoln, Alabama on Oct. 22.
“We are about three miles, a couple exits, from the race track and we have the car that we’re running on Sunday and throughout the weekend. We’ve got the whole Pilot Flying J PJ Fresh race team out here,” said Annett. “It’s cool – we’ve got these unsuspecting customers pull up to the Pilot here and you’ve got a professional race team washing your windshield and filling you up, and this weekend is even more special. Pilot and Flying J are introducing their brand new pizza. It’s pretty cool, it’s 100-percent fresh baked bread each morning and throughout the day, and I’ve had the opportunity to eat a lot of it today and even more of it this weekend, and it’s really good pizza, not your average interstate, cardboard, been-sitting-out-all-day kind of pizza.
“They’re going to have the cheese, the pepperoni and the sausage, they’re also going to do these limited time recipes. Right now, there’s a chicken cordon bleu which is pretty cool, and there’s some other special ones that are coming down the pike. The car this weekend has my favorite, pepperoni, on it, and the car looks pretty cool, and will hopefully look even better at the front of the pack.”
With five races left in the 2015 season, Annett and his team are hoping to improve on the track and get a jump on 2016.
“We’re not happy with our performance this year,” remarked Annett. “I think everybody is a little let down and disappointed with the way we ran. Obviously, this deal came together about a month before Daytona in February, so we knew that it would be a bit of a slow start, but could progressively get better. And we’ve gotten better, we’re growing as a team, but we’re still not where we want to be. We had a pretty good run there at Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, got a top 25, but we feel like we should be in the top 25 week in and week out.
“We’ve got five more chances the rest of this year for that to happen and accomplish that goal and be in the top 25 consistently. I think if we can pull that off we can get some pretty good momentum going into the off-season, going into 2016 with our heads held high.”