Annett Earns First Victory in Daytona Opener

JR Motorsports | 2/16/2019

News

Michael Annett picked up his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win Saturday at Daytona, leading teammate Justin Allgaier across the line to give JRM a 1-2 finish for the second straight year in the season opener.

Race 1 of 33: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval / 120 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees
Race Winner: Michael Annett

Annett's Finish: 1st
Allgaier's Finish: 2nd
Elliott's Finish: 10th
Gragson's Finish: 11th

Michael Annett

Michael Annett’s first race in the No. 1 Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet was definitely one to remember.

Switching car numbers for the 2019 season, from No. 5 to No. 1, Annett came to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday with the idea of racing well and near the front in the season-opening NASCAR Racing Experience 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He did just that, winning the 120-lap event over JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. It was the first victory for Annett in the series and came in his 230th NXS start. His best finish previously was a second-place run in 2017 on the road course at Road America.

The day started out with a third-place run in qualifying, which was his best career NXS start as well, and just got better from there. On the initial start, Annett moved his black-and-red Chevrolet to the front row after polesitter Tyler Reddick was forced to start from the back due to a tire change. Annett fired off well, but the top line was the place to be and he faded to eighth at the end of the first lap. Rejoining the top line, Annett rode to the end of Stage One in 13th place. On his pit stop, Annett took four tires and fuel on his Chevrolet Camaro SS with no adjustments, and gained four spots on the exchange. However, an uncontrolled tire during the stop caused him to drop to 30th for the restart.

Unperturbed, Annett started the long road back to the front and climbed to 19th in two laps and was 11th with 10 to go in the 30-lap Stage Two. A last-lap scramble saw Annett gain two more spots and he finished Stage Two in ninth, earning stage points for the first time this season. It also set up the series of events that eventually got him to Victory Lane.

Crew chief Travis Mack called his driver to pit road for right-side tires and fuel, with no adjustments, and he came off pit road fifth for the final 60-lap run to the checkered flag. A penalty ahead of him put him fourth for the restart, and after a brief drop to sixth, he was fourth on lap 72 when the caution waved for debris. Mack called Annett down pit road again a lap later for fuel only, and sent his driver back out with instructions to save fuel. It would be the final stop for Annett and the No. 1 team until the car rolled into Victory Lane.

Starting second with Brandon Brown on the point, Annett ran second for two laps before sweeping to the lead on lap 76, the first time Annett had led an NXS race at Daytona. Keeping his Chevrolet on the top groove, Annett led the field through another caution for a spin on the backstretch five laps later, and held serve on the ensuing restart despite a brief surge by Christopher Bell. Allgaier had lined up in second spot and Annett maintained his perch at the head of the pack for the next 37 laps. Allgaier and other in the pack worked to mount a charge at Annett, but none struck home and the 32-year-old Iowa native crossed the line .116 seconds ahead of Allgaier.

His 45 laps led set a career high for Annett in a single race, and the victory was JRM’s 45th as a team and sixth at Daytona International Speedway, all by different drivers. Annett is the fifth driver to earn his first victory with JRM, and it is the first triumph for JRM’s No. 1 Chevrolet since Elliott Sadler won at Kentucky Speedway in 2016. For Pilot Flying J, it was the company’s first victory with JRM and the car featured a paint scheme promoting the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why We Give™” campaign. The victory also puts Annett and his No. 1 team into the NXS Playoffs later this season.

Following Annett and Allgaier to the checkered flag were Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric in the top five. Bell, Jeff Green, John Hunter Nemechek, Reddick and JRM’s Chase Elliott rounded out the top 10, with JRM rookie Noah Gragson 11th in his first start for the team.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association team

“This is amazing. I couldn’t have done this without these (No. 1 team) guys. They stuck with me through the hard times, when everybody counted us out. They worked their tails off on this American Heart Association/Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. We got the No. 1 team in Victory Lane this year, and our slogan is ‘One Team, One Dream One Goal.’ This was one of them, so we’re starting off good. I was waiting for that second line to get formed, and I know they tried, but it just wasn’t there. When it hadn’t formed with about three laps to go, I knew they weren’t going to have enough steam to get us. I started worrying about my teammate. If you’re going to have someone back there, I knew Justin (Allgaier) was going to be the best one. He’s aggressive, I knew he was going to push hard but I knew he was going to go for it. We had to keep him in our mirror and keep the gap right. Jason (spotter Jason Jarrett) did a great job on the roof, for sure.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the BRANDT Professional Agriculture team were part of a JR Motorsports one-two finish on Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, finishing second to Michael Annett. It was JRM’s second consecutive year accomplishing that feat in the season-opening event for the NASCAR Xfinity Series

The Illinois native rolled off the grid in the 15th position for the 120-lap race. The main pack of cars went to single-file racing up top early in the run and Allgaier and teammate Chase Elliott tried to move down to create a line on the inside but were unable to get much drafting help. Allgaier ultimately took the green-and-white checkered flag for Stage One in 12th. Under the stage-ending caution, crew chief Jason Burdett called him down pit road for four tires and fuel.

Allgaier started Stage Two from the 10th spot on lap 38 and stayed in the top lane as it continued to have more momentum. By lap 45, most of the field was back to single-file racing. Allgaier remained inside the main draft and as the laps wound down for the second stage, he and teammates Annett and Elliott made a successful run on the bottom line to advance their positions. Allgaier finished Stage Two in seventh. During the caution to end the stage, the 32-year-old driver reported that the right front on the BRANDT Chevrolet started to give up on exit as the run went on and he came down pit road for right-side tires and fuel.

Taking the green flag for the final stage on lap 68 in fourth, Allgaier was up to second in a hurry as the high line got a better run. He was in third when a caution came out on lap 72. Under the yellow, the team called Allgaier in for fuel only. He restarted in third on lap 76 and moved to the top line into the second position behind Annett. The two stayed the top two positions for the remainder of the race through one more caution. Allgaier tried to make a move in the closing laps, but was unable to get there, crossing the line in second behind Annett, who captured his first career NXS victory. Coming in third was Brandon Jones, with Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric rounding out the top five.

Allgaier will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway fifth in the NXS point standings, 10 points outside of the lead.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“Michael (Annett) did a great job. The whole No. 1 team, to see them get to Victory Lane, they’ve been trying really hard to do that. I’m really proud of those guys. I tried to get to him at the end, I thought we were going to be able to generate enough of a run to get there. Brandon (Jones) did a great job trying to help me. We just couldn’t get it rolling enough to get by him. We had a really fast BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro SS. It was disappointing not being able to generate that run, but it was really nice when we were able to cross the finish line one-two today. It was a great day for JR Motorsports.”

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott and the No. 8 AfterShokz team took risks and made moves in Saturday’s NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway, taking the checkered flag in 10th place. The JR Motorsports team ran as high as second place and utilized their fellow teammates of the Nos. 1, 7 and 9 throughout the 120-lap event.

After advancing into the final round of single-car qualifying, Elliott and team earned a seventh-place starting position at the World Center of Racing. Rolling off on the bottom line, the AfterShokz Camaro was right behind teammate Michael Annett by the completion of lap 1. With the momentum in the top lane, the Georgia native elected to move to the upper groove, running in 10th place following the opening laps. With the help of his spotter, Eddie D’Hondt, Elliott followed his veteran teammate Justin Allgaier in attempt to make the bottom line work. Following the drive, he relayed he needed another car behind him to help make the move forward a success and that his AfterShokz Chevrolet was too tight. With only 10 laps remaining to the stage end, crew chief Taylor Moyer opted to keep Elliott out on track and make the needed adjustments following Stage One. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved to conclude the first 30 laps, Elliott was in 11th place.

Under the stage-ending caution, the No. 8 team made a visit to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a loosening adjustment. Elliott restarted Stage Two in eighth place after a quick pit stop. Remaining focused, Elliott drove his AfterShokz Chevrolet just like he did throughout Stage One and drafted his way to second by lap 42 while on the bottom line. On lap 45, Elliott slipped to ninth place after the top line received a stronger push and prevailed. The 23-year-old driver then joined the single-file line for just over 10 laps before making another move with his teammates Allgaier and Annett as the second stage neared the end. When the stage ended on lap 60, the AfterShokz team had made their way up to fourth place.

Before the final stage began, Elliott came down pit road for four tires and fuel. With other teams electing to take only two tires, Elliott restarted in 20th place. Making another strong drive, Elliott made his way up to the 13th-place running position before a lap-72 caution. Moyer made the call to bring Elliott down pit road for a fuel-only stop under the yellow. Elliott restarted in 12th place. On lap 79, the AfterShokz Chevrolet was back inside the top 10 and was running in seventh when the caution flag return. The No. 8 team opted to remain on track, restarting in seventh. Following the opening laps of the restart, Elliott once again broke the single-car line and moved to the bottom. After losing his drafting help, he slipped back before getting back in line in the 13th position. With the closing laps of the event near, the AfterShokz driver began making his moves once again. Ultimately, when the 300-mile race concluded, the No. 8 AfterShokz team was in 10th place.

Annett won the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener and was followed by Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric to round out the top five.                                                                                                                                                     

Chase Elliott, driver AfterShokz team

“I don’t know if it was kind of pushed upon these guys because of what was going on on the Cup side, but these cars are really different I feel like than the Cup stuff. I didn’t do a very good job of timing out my runs as I’m sure you all saw, but the bottom lane really, I thought had a chance just the guys wouldn’t give it a long enough opportunity to make it work. I feel like myself and John Hunter (Nemechek) would work our way forward there on a couple of occasions, once really well, and then once guys got the opportunity they’d just shove to the top and as soon as that deal starts to come apart, it’s tough. I appreciate AfterShokz and the JRM folks for letting me drive. Sorry it wasn’t any better, we were trying.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, overcame an untimely penalty on a lap 75 restart to improve 19 positions over the final run of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway to earn an 11th-place finish.

Gragson took the green flag for the 120-lap event from the 18th position but wasted little time charging forward, utilizing the outside line to draft into the top 10 by just the second lap and all the way up to sixth by the completion of lap 5. The driver of the Switch Chevrolet maintained his top-10 track position throughout the caution-free stage, ultimately taking the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage One on lap 60 in the sixth position, earning five valuable stage points in the process.

During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Dave Elenz called the Las Vegas, Nevada native to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment, but a speeding penalty forced Gragson to line up for the beginning of Stage Two in the 31st position. Despite the penalty, Gragson once again powered forward, needing only one lap to draft back into the top 20. The driver of the Switch Chevrolet’s march forward didn’t stop there as Gragson took advantage of the outside line to draft up to the 13th position just before the caution-free second stage came to a close on lap 60.

Prior to the beginning of the final stage, Elenz once again brought Gragson to pit road for just right-side tires and fuel, sending the JR Motorsports driver back out in the sixth position. Gragson quickly moved into the top five when the race went back to green, drafting to fourth on the outside line before the caution flag was displayed on lap 71. During this caution period, the decision was made to return to pit road for fuel only. However, an issue with the lineup on the ensuing restart resulted in a restart-violation and a pass-through penalty for Gragson. Undeterred by the penalty, Gragson returned to the track in the 30th position and remained on the lead lap until a lap 79 caution period gave the driver of the Switch Chevrolet an opportunity to rejoin the lead pack.

Gragson took advantage of the lap 83 restart to again make a push toward the front, drafting back into the top 20 on lap 89 and up to the 13th position before the lead pack went back to a single-file formation in the outside line. Despite riding single-file, Gragson repeatedly made attempts to establish an inside line but found drafting partners difficult to come by. 

In the closing laps, Gragson’s persistence to make moves in the single-file line paid off as the driver of the Switch Chevrolet was able to gain two positions to take the checkered flag in the 11th position. 

JRM teammate Michael Annett earned his first career NXS victory, with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric rounding out the top-five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“Today was a solid day for our Switch Chevrolet. It was just difficult to pass there at the end but it’s good to come home from Daytona with a clean car as we get ready for Atlanta. I just want to thank Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and everyone on this JR Motorsports team for their hard work throughout the weekend and congrats to my teammate Michael Annett on the victory. Now we get to turn our attention to a place where we tested few weeks ago and I am really looking forward to seeing what we can do once we get to Atlanta.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • November 2 08:30 PM ET
    O'Reilly Auto Parts 300Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 9 03:30 PM ET
    Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200ISM Raceway
  • November 16 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300

Kansas Speedway | 10/19/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Christopher Bell (P)31060
2Cole Custer (P)3095-11
3Tyler Reddick (P)3094-12
4Justin Allgaier (P)3059-47
5Chase Briscoe # (P)3057-49
6Michael Annett (P)3047-59
7Noah Gragson # (P)3042-64
8Austin Cindric (P)3029-77