Photo by Royal Broil / Flickr.com
Michael Annett has scored two top-5's in the last two races.
By Dominic Aragon
TheRacingExperts: Last year, many fans remembered that you ran for Rusty Wallace Inc. and signed on to drive the famous No. 43 car at season’s end. How did the deal come together?
Michael Annett: “The biggest thing that happened was the sponsorship deal for the 66 car with 5 Hour Energy—they decided to move to the Cup Series… [After a turn of events], we realized we needed to go somewhere else, go our separate ways.
“I’m fortunate enough to have the relationship I do with Pilot Flying J and that definitely opened up some doors to meet with people. I sat down with Richard Petty Motorsports… Everything just fell into place about a month before Daytona, so definitely had to hurry things along, but I have a real good relationship with Roush Fenway Racing and it helped with the process of getting cars ready to go at the beginning of the season. I couldn’t be happier.”
TheRacingExperts: What’s it like to say that you drive for “The King” and use the legendary car number?
Michael Annett: “It really is an honor and a privilege which was one of the cool parts of that first meeting. We got down to some of the nitty gritty things like which number [I’d] like to use. [Richard Petty] was the first one to step up and say he wanted the 43 and that put a smile on my face right away. It’s a privilege to climb in the car every weekend with that number on the side.”
TheRacingExperts: Your team has hit a hot streak. Before Kentucky, you had had some decent showings in the car, but you now have scored your first two top-5’s finishes of your career the past two races. Where’s the extra muscle coming from?
Michael Annett: “We put this team together very late and it takes a little bit to get that chemistry [going]. I was really happy how we started the season, but we know we are a top-10, top-5 team.”
TheRacingExperts: How close is this team from knocking on victory lane?
Michael Annett: “I think we’re really close. I keep telling people once you get that top-5, and you do it consistently, everybody [on the team] gets that extra confidence.
“There’s definitely some momentum going. Everybody’s really excited at the shop and we all just have that little extra jump in our step. The pressure’s there every weekend [to perform well].
TheRacingExperts: Over the past two races, this team has made up points on the championship leaders. How real is the possibility of the 43 team making a charge over the next couple of months to have a realistic shot at the championship?
Michael Annett: “It’s going to be tough. We could do our job week in and week out throughout the rest of the season and put ourselves in that position, but it would just take a lot of bad luck for the guys in front of us. We just need to take it one step at a time. We need to get ourselves into the top-5 in points. That’s our first goal, and we can’t look at the points. We just need to stick to what we’ve been doing, making the right calls, and putting ourselves in the right position for top-5 finishes.”
TheRacingExperts: During the stretch of the season, what are some races you are circling on your calendar?
Michael Annett: “I’ve had a lot of success through the summer months at all these tracks coming up. I really look forward to Loudon, it’s one of my favorites. Then of course, going to the Brickyard is a little bit of a mystery, no one knows but it’s going to be a blast and an honor to race there. There’s just a lot of races that I enjoy and have a lot of success at in the past that I’m looking forward to get[ting] there.”
TheRacingExperts: If there’s a team in Cup that is locked in through the top-35 rule that has limited funding, is there a chance we may see you and your sponsor run a one-race deal with a team some point this season?
Michael Annett: “The biggest thing is, I’ve told people, ‘yeah, if there are sponsorship dollars, it does open the door to be able to do a Cup ride here and there.’ But I want to have success in the Nationwide Series; I want to prove myself and to others when I do make the jump up to the Cup Series, that I belong there.”