By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Late-race strategy for Michael Annett and crew chief Travis Mack almost earned the JR Motorsports duo another NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.
When the caution waved on lap 163 at Kansas Speedway, Mack opted to pit Annett’s No. 1 All State Parts & Service Group Chevrolet Camaro SS for fuel only. While the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Grid driver slipped backward, the strategy worked. A caution 16 laps later put Annett on fresh tires.
On the ensuing restart, Annett got caught in the middle with Justin Allgaier on the inside and Tyler Reddick on the outside. The three-wide battle for second allowed Brandon Jones to take the lead. Annett had one more restart, but again was caught in a three-wide battle. He crossed the line for the Kansas Lottery 300 in fourth.
“Honestly, Travis Mack called a great race all day,” Annett admitted. “Great strategy right there at the end. We the freshest tires. We were watching the race from last year all week and the outside, you knew you had to have that.”
I got the two out of the way then we were three wide side drafting each other and let the 19 get away and 98 came out of nowhere. We got some work to do, but it’s just testament to how hard these guys work. We started at 38th, got in on the wall, brought out that caution.”
The top-five finish came after Annett failed to make a qualifying lap and started 38th. He climbed from last to finish the first stage in 10th. Annett followed that up with a seventh in the second stage. The additional five-points benefitted the JRM drivers as his playoff rivals encountered trouble.
Kansas marked the sixth top-five and 18th top-10 for Annett this season. 18 top-10s is a new single season record for the 33-year-old driver.
Annett now sits sixth on the playoff grid, 12-points behind the cutoff, held by his teammate Justin Allgaier. He is also 59-points behind points leader Christopher Bell.