Michael Annett, driver of the No. 62 Pilot Flying J Toyota for Rusty Wallace Racing, is moving from stepping hard on his brake pedal at the Nationwide road course race last weekend to the upcoming full throttle action of Daytona International Speedway in this weekend’s race.
[media-credit name=”Autostock Images” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]And on his way, he just happened to score the best finish of his season so far, seventh place on Wisconsin’s 4.048 mile Road America course.
Annett was Rusty Wallace Racing’s top finisher, earning his second top-10 finish and the team’s fifth top-10 finish for the year.
“It was definitely unexpected and I consider myself a survivor of that race,” Annett said. “We were down in the 20’s in the timing charts and I felt if we kept the fenders on the car and stayed on the track, we’d have a chance for a top-15 and then get to the end, and maybe have a chance for a top-10.”
“And we did and it was definitely exciting and good for our whole team.”
In spite of getting a top-10 finish, Annett still does not consider himself an accomplished road course racer.
“I definitely don’t consider myself a road course racer, but pit strategy and steering clear of trouble on the track brought us to another well-deserved top-10 finish,” Annett said.”My crew chief, Rick Viers, made some great calls, and working our way around the mayhem during the three attempts at a green, white, checkered there at the end was to our benefit.”
“We’ve got a great group of guys assembled for our No. 62 team, and their hard work really paid off this weekend,” Annett continued. “We made smart moves throughout the race, and bringing home a car with no damage and a seventh place finish is pretty awesome.”
“I’m excited to give Pilot Flying J and Rusty Wallace Racing another top-10.”
As excited as he was, Annett admitted that he was disappointed for his teammate Steve Wallace, who had what looked to be a potential winning car. Wallace was caught up in an accident later in the race and finished 26th.
“I definitely knew that he deserved a better finish than what he got,” Annett said of Wallace. “He had a really good car and he is a really good road racer. He surprised me this weekend I’ll be honest with you.”
En route to the road course race this weekend, Annett also celebrated another milestone, his 25th birthday.
“I flew on a plane from Concord Airport to Wisconsin for my birthday,” Annett said. “We landed and my mom went to a very good Italian restaurant in Elkhart Lake and her, myself and Reed Sorenson had pasta and pizza and cheese bread.”
“We were all full and then she whipped out an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen for dessert,” Annett continued. “It worked out very nice.”
After his birthday celebration and his great top-10 run, Annett was also very excited for his best friend Reed Sorenson’s victory at Road America.
“As soon as he finished, I pulled up next to him to be the first to congratulate him,” Annett said. “I ran down to Victory Lane and congratulated him there too.”
“He told me the odds would have been a thousand to one for him to win that race,” Annett said. “Better yet, me finishing seventh was even longer odds than that.”
Annett is now ready to move from pumping the brake pedals to running full throttle on the high banks of Daytona. While he has high hopes, he is not so fond of the two-car tandem draft that has become the norm at the superspeedways.
“To me, I enjoyed the chess match being in the big group in the draft, with the driver making the decision about what line to be in and where to be,” Annett said. “I really do not like the racing the way it is now. I don’t like relying on someone else to have success and that’s where we are right now.”
“I am fortunate enough that I have a teammate and we work really well together,” Annett continued. “Going to Daytona we have the same plan to work together. I don’t like it but having a teammate is fortunate going into it.”
While Annett felt that he had some control at the road course, he most certainly feels that it is just a roll of the dice at Daytona.
“I am looking at a top-10 finish to keep this momentum going,” Annett said. “But it’s always a crap shoot at Daytona.”
“I got taken out on lap 15 at Daytona this year and in the last few laps of Talladega,” Annett continued. “It’s really a crap shoot but we definitely have the potential to have both cars in the top-10 at the end. We’re going into the weekend planning on that.”
Annett heads to Daytona in the 10th position in the Nationwide Series championship point standings. He has a win at that track from back in his days with the ARCA Racing Series.