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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2011 NASCAR Driver Review: Michael Annett

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Michael Annett

*2011 Ride:* No. 62 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota
*2011 Primary Sponsor:* Pilot Travel Centers/Flying J Coffee, Oakley, Northland Motor Oils, 5-Hour Energy, Infinite Hero Foundation, Freightliner, RacewithRusty.com, LoanStar Title Loans
*2011 Owner:* Rusty Wallace
*2011 Crew Chief:* Jason Overstreet (first 14 races), Rick Viers.

*Nationwide Stats:* 34 Races, 0 Wins, 0 top 5s, 7 top 10s, 3 DNFs, 9th in Points.
*Best Finish*: Sixth – Daytona in July and Bristol in August.
*Average Finish:* 16.4.

*2011 Team Ranking:* #1 at RWR. Annett out-pointed teammate Steven Wallace (10th) by 23 in the final standings.

*High Point*: After struggling out of the gate, Annett hit his stride midseason and recorded four consecutive finishes of seventh or better at four very different tracks (Elkhart Lake, Daytona, Kentucky, Loudon), which showcased his talent. He tied for his best finish of the season (sixth) at Daytona.

*Low Point:* Annett didn’t record a top 10 until the 14th race of the season at Chicago and had four finishes of 20th or worse in that time span.

*Off-Track News:* Annett was arrested for Driving Under the Influence on Feb. 6 during Daytona Speedweeks after he rear-ended another vehicle in the early hours of the morning. He was also charged with resisting arrest.

The driver released a statement saying, “I am deeply remorseful for my actions and my extreme lack of judgment. I let down my team, my sponsors, my fans and my family; I sincerely apologize to everyone that I hurt. This was truly a life-changing moment for me. Despite all of the negativity that will undoubtedly arise from it, I’m going to strive to use this incident as the impetus to make a lot of positive changes in my life.”

In July, Annett was given a suspended jail sentence of 120 days and was put on two years probation. He was also sentenced to 48 hours community service and fined $200. Annett was stripped of his driver’s license for one year.

*Summary:* Rusty Wallace stuck with Annett following the DUI arrest preceding the 2011 season. Wallace said Annett would be disciplined internally at the time. The driver was involved in an accident in the season-opening race at Daytona and it proved to be sign of things to come as the No. 62 didn’t finish on the lead lap until 12th race of the season at Iowa and didn’t record a top-10 until race 14 at Chicago.
Following the race at Chicago, Jason Overstreet was replaced by Rick Viers atop the pit box. Annett and Viers clicked almost immediately. After a 19th-place run in their first race together at Michigan, the duo clicked off four consecutive top-10s in Annett’s most impressive stretch of the season.

The mid-season surge proved to be unsustainable as Annett recorded only two top-10s the rest of the campaign. The team finished the season with four runs outside the top-15 in the final five races.

*2012 Outlook:* Annett said at Homestead that he looked forward to continuing his partnership with Flying J Coffee and Rusty Wallace Racing in 2012. There has been no word on any changes.

*2010 Frontstretch.com Grade*: No grade was given.
*2011 Grade*: C. Annett’s off-track issues clearly impacted the No. 62 team’s performance at the start of 2011. He put together some impressive runs in the middle of the year only to fizzle at the end. He out-performed his teammate, but didn’t do much to show that he belongs at the next level.

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