[media-credit name=”Photo Credit: Gary Buchanan” align=”alignright” width=”228″][/media-credit]With six top-five finishes and 17 top-10 finishes in his first season with Richard Petty Motorsports, driver Michael Annett has had one heck of a year. In fact, in 32 races, Annett has only had five where he finished outside the top-15.
But in the last race of the year, Annett has just one thing on his mind. He wants to finish fifth in the championship points and beat out Justin Allgaier, who is just seven points behind him in sixth.
“Our season didn’t start off the way we wanted to and, as tough as the competition is, you can be out of the championship race pretty early in the season,” Annett said. “At some point, you have to sit down and look at what your goals are going to be.”
“It actually wasn’t too long ago that we were 50 some odd points behind the fifth spot and then we put together some really good runs,” Annett continued. “We looked at where we are and what goal we could achieve and that’s now fifth in points, and to on get on stage, and hopefully get a race win before the season is out.”
“I think we’d be disappointed if we didn’t achieve that goal but still so happy with our season.”
Although Annett is focused on that fifth place in the point standings, make no mistake. The young driver is also focused on going for the win in the season finale.
“We’d like to get that win and this is the last chance of the season to bring home a trophy,” Annett said. “It would be really cool to win and a testament to how hard my guys have worked this season, starting about a month before Daytona in February.”
“To get where we are right now, a win would be a huge honor,” Annett continued. “To get the 43 car back in Victory Lane, knowing how much that means to the sport, would be great.”
“It has been a long time since I’ve won a stock car race so it would be a huge deal.”
While racing for the win, will Annett keep a look out the corner of his eye on the No. 31 Brandt Chevrolet, piloted by the driver know as ‘Lil Gator’? You bet he will, in no uncertain terms.
“We just want to do our best to stay on the same strategy as him,” Annett said. “We know we can beat them but if we stay on that same strategy we know we will beat them straight up.”
Annett is definitely looking forward to racing the finale at Homestead, a track that he enjoys and finds challenging. He has four Nationwide starts there, with a best finish of 19th at the 1.5 mile track.
“The biggest challenges at Homestead are the changes in the track from one end to the other,” Annett said. “We’ve already seen in the first practice that the tire fall off is huge, about a second it seems like.”
“That’s the biggest thing we fight,” Annett continued. “The track is hot and slick and that’s a challenge, especially to get a car to work good in both ends of the track.
Annett will be piloting Chassis No. 621 for the 200-lap Ford EcoBoost 300. This particular Ford Mustang has previously run at Bristol and at Dover, where Annett finished eighth and third respectively.
“The chassis is one of our mile and a half cars that has run well in the past,” Annett said. “We’ll definitely use it up for the final race.”
While Annett prepares for the Nationwide finale, he will also have spent his Friday night watching the Truck race as well.
“Not only am I a driver but I’m a race fan too and the trucks put on a good show,” Annett said. “I want to pick up what the track is going to do and what’s going to change throughout the race.”
“Also, I’ll watch who tries two tires, no tires or four tires and how that either helps or hurts them,” Annett continued. “Those are the kind of things you watch and those races are always exciting and they have a tight points battle to boot.”
Annett is also excited about the end of the season because he, unlike many drivers, knows that he will be back in a race car again in 2013.
“RPM picked up the option so we will be back with our whole team intact,” Annett said. “We have some new partners coming on board and for sure, we are back again.”
Although excited about the season finale, Annett also has an eye to the off-season.
“I’m going to go to the Dominican Republic for Thanksgiving and then I go home for ten or fifteen days for Christmas,” Annett said. “Other than those two trips, then we will start getting focused and get ready to race again in February.”
But for now, Annett has winning and clinching fifth in points on his mind and in his sights.
“We put ourselves in position for top-five in points so we need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Annett said. “Hopefully, we can win the race and if not, then staying in the top five would be the best.”
“If we can keep improving on our results and finish fifth this year, we’ll definitely be a championship team next year.”