Michael Annett wins Xfinity Series opener at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Michael Annett stretched the Speedweeks streak of first-time winners to three with a victory Saturday in the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Annett won for the first time at NASCAR’s national level, a career that spans 345 races in three series. He gave JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister and Rick Hendrick, its fourth in five years at Daytona.
“A lot of people have been down on Michael Annett for a while now,” Earnhardt said.
He likened Annett’s opportunity driving the No. 1 Chevrolet for JRM, a competitive Xfinity Series team, to when the late Dale Earnhardt gave Michael Waltrip a ride in 2001. It was Waltrip’s first ride in a car capable of winning, and he ended a 462-race losing streak by winning the Daytona 500 in his debut for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
“It reminds me of an Earnhardt giving a Michael a chance years ago to show his potential,” Earnhardt Jr. said about Annett’s victory.
Annett followed Austin Hill, winner of the Truck Series opener, and Harrison Burton, winner of the ARCA opener, as first-time winners this week. The Daytona 500 is Sunday.
Justin Allgaier finished second for a 1-2 Chevrolet finish but didn’t have an opportunity to pass Annett for the lead. The racing was largely single file and strung out, the opposite of Friday night’s crash-marred Truck Series race.
Drivers on Saturday found it difficult to mount a passing attempt so they mostly stayed in line.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t make a run but a great way to start the season, come out of here second with some points,” said Allgaier, who praised Annett for earning the victory.
“He has tried so hard and the effort and time he’s put in into it.”
Brandon Jones was third in Toyota’s debut of the Supra in the Xfinity Series.