A significant milestone is in the making for Michael Annett, driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. When Annett takes the green flag this weekend at Darlington Raceway, he will achieve 400 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series (Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series).
A native from Des Moines, Iowa, who achieved two ARCA career victories from 2007 and 2008, Annett made his debut within NASCAR’s top three division series at the Milwaukee Mile in June 2008, where he piloted the No. 22 Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing in the NASCAR Truck Series. He finished in sixth place in his series debut and two races later, he earned a career-best runner-up result at Kentucky Speedway. He made a total of eight starts in the Truck Series in 2008 (seven with Bill Davis Racing and one with Germain Racing). He also made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, where he drove the No. 03 Toyota for Germain Racing and finished 36th.
In 2009, Annett campaigned on a full-time basis in the Xfinity Series as a rookie candidate and in the No. 15 Toyota Camry led by crew chief Bruce Cook for Germain Racing. Throughout his rookie season, Annett achieved four top-10 results (best result of sixth place at Auto Club Speedway in October) and he concluded the season in 10th place in the final standings. He remained with Germain Racing for the 2010 Xfinity season, where he achieved two top-10 results and concluded the season in 13th place in the final standings and with crew chief Ryan “Rudy” Fugle.
In 2011, Annett moved to Rusty Wallace Racing to pilot the No. 62 Toyota Camry with primary sponsorship from Pilot Flying J and led by crew chief Rick Viers in the Xfinity Series. For the first 13 races of the season, he finished no higher than 13th place. For five of the next six races, however, he achieved five top-10 results. He nearly won at Daytona International Speedway in July after taking the lead on the final lap with two corners remaining. He, however, lost the draft with teammate Steve Wallace and settled in sixth place. For the final 15 races of the season, he achieved two additional top-10 results and he concluded the season in ninth place in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 100 career starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
For the 2012 season and after Rusty Wallace Racing ceased operations due to lack of sponsorship, Annett made the move to Richard Petty Motorsports to drive the No. 43 Ford Mustang sponsored by Pilot Flying J and led by crew chief Philippe Lopez. Annett had a successful run in the series, where he achieved his first six top-five career results, led by a pair of third-place results at Daytona International Speedway in July and at Dover International Speedway in September. He also earned a total of 17 top-10 results and he claimed the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July following a sixth-place result. When the season concluded, he ended up with a career-best fifth place in the final standings.
Annett started off the 2013 Xfinity season on a rough note, when he was involved in a late multi-car accident in the season opener at Daytona and had dislocated and fractured his sternum. Missing the first eight races of the season and while Aric Almirola and Reed Sorenson filled in for Annett, he returned at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, where he finished 17th. For the remainder of the season, he achieved one top-five result and a total of four top-10 results before he concluded the season in 15th place in the final standings.
Following a five-year run in the Xfinity Series, Annett moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2014 and he entered the series as a rookie candidate in the No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS for Tommy Baldwin Racing led by veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion. Making his series debut at the Daytona 500, Annett was involved in a late multi-car wreck and finished in 37th place. Throughout the 36-race stretch, Annett only achieved four top-20 results and he concluded the season in 33rd place in the final standings. He also competed in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway for NTS Motorsports, where he raced his way into the main event following a final qualifying race and finished 25th. By then, he surpassed 200 career starts across NASCAR.
The following season, Annett remained in the Cup Series, but he made the move to HScott Motorsports to pilot the team’s second car, the No. 46 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS, led by crew chief Jay Guy. Annett achieved a career-best result of 13th place in the Daytona 500. The following week, however, Annett initially failed to qualify for the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Nonetheless, Annett still got to race at Atlanta when Brian Scott relinquished his seat, the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS, since Annett was competing for Cup points. Driving under the Hillman-Circle Sport LLC banner, Annett finished 29th. The remaining 34 races of the season, however, was a disappointing one as Annett finished no higher than 23rd place and he concluded the season in 36th place in the final standings. He also failed to qualify at Talladega Superspeedway in October.
Returning for a third season in the Cup circuit with Hscott Motorsports in 2016, Annett’s best result throughout the 36-race schedule was 20th, which occurred at Daytona in July. At Bristol Motor Speedway in August, Justin Allgaier filled in as an interim competitor when Annett suffered from flu-like symptoms. Prior to the season concluding, Annett declared himself a free agent for the 2017 season.
After three seasons in the Cup Series, Annett scaled back down to the Xfinity Series for the 2017 season and joined forces with JR Motorsports to pilot the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro sponsored by Pilot Flying J, TMC Transportation and Allstate Parts & Service Group, and led by crew chief Jason Stockert. Annett started the season with a 14th-place run at Daytona followed by a 15th-place run at Atlanta. Two races later, he achieved his first top-10 result of the season at Phoenix (ninth place). Through the first 22 races of the season, Annett recorded a total of five top-10 results. At Road America in August, Annett achieved a career-best runner-up result behind Jeremy Clements. Following his result, Annett dedicated his run to Adam Wright, a mechanic at JR Motorsports who died in a car accident a week prior to Road America. Annett went on to make the 2017 Xfinity Series Playoffs before he was eliminated from title contention at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. He wrapped up the season in ninth place in the final standings and with seven top-10 results. By then, he surpassed 300 career starts across NASCAR.
Returning for a second full-time season with JRM in 2018, Annett struggled with on-track consistency. For the first 21 races of the season, he finished no higher than 11th. A week later, he recorded his first top-10 result at Bristol in August. By then, he was paired with new crew chief Travis Mack. He only achieved one additional top-10 result (10th place at Darlington Raceway) throughout the regular-season stretch while he also recorded five DNFs. Following the regular-season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September, Annett failed to make the Playoffs. He went on to conclude the season in 14th place in the final standings.
For the 2019 Xfinity season, Annett remained at JRM, but assumed driving responsibilities of the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Travis Mack remaining with Annett. To start the season and with American Heart Association co-sponsoring the No. 1 car along with Pilot Flying J, Annett responded back to all of his past struggles throughout his career by winning the season opener at Daytona and achieving his first victory across NASCAR’s three major series in his 230th Xfinity career start. The victory guaranteed Annett’s No. 1 team a spot in the Playoffs. His early success did not stop there as he recorded a total of five top-five results and 15 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch. He also achieved his first career pole at Talladega in April. During the Playoffs, Annett earned finishes of ninth, 15th and sixth in the first round, spanning three races, to advance to the Round of 8. He finished fourth, 11th and ninth in the second round, but he failed to transfer to the Championship Round at Homestead. He concluded the season with an 11th-place run at Homestead and a ninth-place result in the final standings. Though he fell short of the 2019 Xfinity title, Annett achieved a career-high six top-five results, 19 top-10 results and 94 laps led throughout the season.
This season, his fourth consecutive season with JRM, Annett started off the season with an 11th-place run at Daytona and after being involved in a multi-car accident on the final lap. Through the first 22 races of this season, he has recorded three top-five results and 13 top-10 results, and he is in eighth place in the regular-season standings. He has also started on pole position for three consecutive races in the summer (Texas, Kansas and Road America) by virtue of a random draw amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to making his ninth Xfinity career start at Darlington this weekend and while he continues to secure one of 12 spots for this year’s Xfinity Playoffs, Annett is set to sport a special Oreo scheme to his No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro that his boss and former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to an Xfinity win at Daytona in February 2002.
Catch Annett’s milestone start at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, September 5, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.