DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – At the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Michael Annett had a teammate behind him but feared he was still a sitting duck.
Thankfully for the 32-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, the big run from behind never materialized.
As a result, Annett was able to cruise home to his first series win during the NASCAR Racing Experience 300, leading the final 45 laps with ease en route to victory.
The race was relatively calm from start to finish, with the third of four caution flags waving with 49 to go when Brad Keselowski’s roof escape hatch broke off and landed on the racing surface.
That led to a decisive round of pit stops, where Annett’s crew got him out first and in control of the race.
Green flag conditions returned with 45 to go and Annett quickly dispatched the machine of Brandon Brown, who stayed out in an effort to gain track position. He never looked back after that, despite one final incident with 41 laps left for a spinning Ray Black Jr. that set up another restart.
Annett just jumped out ahead of his teammate Allgaier, pulled the field out single-file and held serve.
“I knew that if it stayed single-file, I just had to worry about Justin and keep him in my mirror,” noted Annett. “I really had no experience being in that position, but luckily, I watched a lot of tape and had an idea of what I needed to do. Especially when I found out where we were starting, right away you kind of know exactly what you need to focus on starting up there. … The spotter on the roof was huge in just making sure I was maintaining my gaps behind me and make sure they couldn’t get that big run.”
Annett was quick to circle his pit crew as a major reason he ended the day celebrating in victory lane.
“That pit stop was everything and getting out of the box. It all started with drawing the No. 1 pit stall when we first got down here, and that’s what got it for us,” Annett noted. “Justin was an amazing teammate. He didn’t try to poke out or kill our momentum; he just stayed tucked up right behind me. I definitely owe him a thank you, because I was able to focus out the windshield.”
Despite the lack of energy in the closing laps, Allgaier did try to lag back to third-running Brandon Jones on the last lap in an effort to get a run going down the backstretch.
However, in Allgaier’s own words, “the run just never materialized.”
“I definitely wanted to get by him, but Michael did a great job. That whole No. 1 team has worked hard,” praised Allgaier. “To see him get to victory lane … they’ve been trying really hard to do that. Michael’s worked as hard as anybody here lately. I know all the hours that No. 1 team put into it.
“I tried at the end. I thought we were going to be able to generate enough of a run to get there to him,” Allgaier continued. “I was backing up to the 19; Brandon did a great job to try to help me. We just couldn’t get that big run like we needed to be able to go by him.”
Jones completed the podium ahead of Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric.
Christopher Bell, Jeff Green, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Reddick and Chase Elliott filled out the rest of the top 10.
After starting on the outside pole and leading the first 29 laps, Jeffrey Earnhardt faded to 15th in his first start with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kaulig Racing teammates Justin Haley and Ross Chastain won the first two stages on Saturday.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.