LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 02: Michael Annett, driver of the #5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on June 2, 2018 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

No wins. One top-five finish. Seven top-ten’s. Those are the stats from Michael Annett’s first 51 races with JR Motorsports – one of the top Xfinity Series teams in NASCAR, stretching back to the start of the 2017 year.

Michael Annett trying to right the ship

On June 29, Annett and JRM announced an extension that would keep him in the car for the entirety of the 2019 season. The news broke over social media, with one tweet standing out from the others.

Jeff Gluck Tweet announcing Annett’s extension

Jeff Gluck, a NASCAR journalist who has developed a following of over 100,000 fans on twitter, sent out a tweet updating the public of the extension. The replies ranged with different comments, but a common theme was found.

“What a waste of a car,” one read.

The lack of success is there, and Annett will be the first to acknowledge it. “I would put that across the board,” Annett said. “The results aren’t where we want [them to be].”

Upcoming Home Race

This week, the NASCAR Xfinity Series comes into Iowa Speedway for the second time in the 2018 season. In 11 Xfinity starts at the track, Annett has piled together a top-five and three top-10’s.

“[Iowa] is just one more track on the schedule that we need to improve on,” Annett said. “Fortunately in our sport, we get a chance to start that progress week in and week out. You’re only as good as your last race.”

Being only as good as your last race would be helpful to Annett this weekend. In the last outing, the Pilot Flying J No. 5 climbed all the way up to P6 on the leaderboard at one point, despite finishing in 16th. Though, the race gave Annett at least a little bit of momentum, as he trimmed the gap that separates him from a playoff spot from 40 points to 30.

Now, his team is trying to get back to where Annett was seasons ago with Richard Petty Motorsports. One of his years in the No. 43 Xfinity car saw him earn 17 top 10’s during a 33-race season. That’s 17 more than he has had this year.

Annett said: “We’ve just got to start knocking off top-10’s. I’m very frustrated with 12th and 14th, when we know we have the equipment capable of getting ourselves in the top 10. We look forward to each weekend to right the ship.”

Time To Turn Things Around

Through 18 races this season, that hasn’t happened. Annett pointed out a number of places where he and his team could improve. “We’ve got to start getting more segment points,” Annett said. “We just need to keep using the resources we have at our finger-tips, [and] utilize our teammates and the speed that they’ve shown.”

Annett is the only JRM driver that is currently not in a playoff position, not to mention he’s the only one outside of the top 10. His teammates Elliot Sadler, Justin Allgaier, and Tyler Reddick sit 3rd, 5th, and 6th, respectively.

“I need to qualify better, I need to work on my restarts and get all we can in those first two laps after a restart,” Annett said. “You start doing that and you put yourself in position to get the top tens.”

What a time it would be for Annett to start turning the ship than at his home track. The 32-year old is from Des Moines, IA – around 45 minutes away from Iowa Speedway.

The whole weekend in general is just a little different when you go to your home race tracks,” Annett said. “There’s more friends and family that want to spend time with you. You’re trying to focus on the job at hand, but you also don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings. Coming in here, we definitely want to have a good showing and get our season on the right track. There’s no better place to do it.”

The series will run the U.S. Cellular 250 on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. CT. It will be broadcast live on NBCSN.

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