When we first sat down with Michael Annett back in April, he was learning the ropes as a NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie. Now, his rookie campaign is nearly complete and Annett is sitting in the top 10 in driver points and already eyeing an even bigger year in 2010. Our Amy Henderson caught up with Annett in Charlotte, and he caught us up on his season to date, how he relaxes away from the track, and on focusing on goals.
Amy Henderson, Frontstretch: When we talked earlier this year, you had a few races under your belt as a rookie for Germain Racing. Please update us on the season-how is it going?
Michael Annett: I think at the beginning, it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to. We had ups and downs. We had some good runs and some ones we’d like to forget! It seems like this summer it started to go really good. St. Louis was the biggest change I noticed and ever since then we’ve had some pretty good momentum and a lot of top-10 and top-15 runs. Kansas was a little bit of a hiccup, but we still ran really well there. When we unload off the truck, everybody on the team knows that we can run up there, and I think that makes everybody more excited to come to the track each week.
Henderson: What do you think spurred that improvement? Is it you maturing as a driver, or something that you and your team have learned that changed things?
Annett: I definitely think that I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got more confidence in myself, but also I have a young crew chief with Ryan Fugle, and he’s getting more confident with himself as well. With everybody bringing that excitement to the track, momentum and confidence mean more than anything – more than making a change on the racecar.
Henderson: You have goals coming into the season, but how do you have to adapt and change those goals as the season moves forward.
Annett: There are some goals that you can set at the beginning of the season, and obviously sometimes you realize that you aren’t going to meet that goal, so you have to set something else to keep that drive going. We know that we can get into the top 10 in points, and sure, if we won every race until the end of the year, we could still win Rookie of the Year. We want to finish as high as we can in Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings and get into the top 10 – those are goals that we have had since the beginning of they year, and we’ve kept those.
Henderson: Would you consider your rookie year a success?
Annett: I think that after these next four or five races that I would be more able to answer that question. Up to right now it’s been on a successful trend, but I would be disappointed if we weren’t in the top 10 in points. If you can judge our success by how much we have improved, then you could definitely say yes, too, But I will be disappointed if we don’t get into the top 10.
Henderson: What are your plans and goals moving forward through the end of 2009 and into next year?
Annett: Mostly just to keep our confidence up and keep our cars together. For myself as a driver, I want to keep getting better so that going to next year, we can set higher goals than we did even for this year – to be top five and go for a championship next year.
Henderson: You are with one of the larger independent teams in Germain Racing, but you have had a blank hood for a couple of weeks as you search for sponsorship. How does that affect you as a team. Does that change the team’s plans at all?
Annett: No, it doesn’t. The decals on the car aren’t affecting us at all. We’re bringing the same cars we were bringing when we had the car completely decaled up. Nothing has changed, we still have the same resources at our fingertips and everybody on the team knows that. From the outside looking in, maybe they’ll underrate us a little bit, but we know that we have the same cars that can run in the top 10 every week.
Henderson: Being with an independent team, and not having the amount of money or resources that some of the Cup-owned teams might have, does that have an impact on how your team operates?
Annett: I don’t think so. I think it just makes it more exciting for us when we go out and beat them. We know what we have for resources and what they have, and when we run better than them, everything comes back to us wanting to go to the track the next weekend and do it again. Through the week it makes everybody want to make the car that much better so we can go out and beat them. I know we’re close – just a little bit more work and we might be right there with them
Henderson: What’s your race-day routine?
Annett: I just try to relax as much as possible. I make sure I get to the track and get to the rookie meeting, and then just go through with the crew chief and know what the plan is for the day and for practice. We talk about what things he wants us to hit on, talk about qualifying and things we want to do there, and then just pretty much relax. There’s usually some sponsor commitments.
Henderson: It’s a long season; what do you do to relax away from the track?
Annett: Not much. I try to get to the shop every day. I try to stick to a pretty strict workout routine – that’s tough with our schedule. Each week, sometimes it’s a little bit different. I try to make it to the gym once a day and get in to the shop. Then I like to hang around my house, go to movies with friends, hang around the lake. Stuff like that.
Henderson: What would surprise fans to learn about you?
Annett: I think most people think we grew up racing go-karts and everything, but I didn’t start racing until I was 18. That’s seems like it’s the biggest surprise to people when they find out. They think you need to be in a go-kart at age five. It’s just something that’s a little bit different. It might make kids who are 14 or 15 years old that still have dreams of doing this get out in a stock car at their local track. They still can make this a dream.
Henderson: Last time we talked, you said the weirdest thing a fan had ever asked you to do was to sign their forehead – is that still the strangest, or has it gotten weirder?
Annett: I think that’s still the strangest!
Henderson: Finally, since we talked before about your hockey career, it’s almost time for the NHL season to start. Who is your pick for the Stanley Cup?
Annett: I like to go to Hurricanes games, but I don’t know if they’ll get it done. Hopefully they’ll be there towards the end, but it’s pretty hard to look past the Penguins and the Capitals. I think they’re always going to be contenders.
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