NEWTON IA (4-17-08) - When rookie racer Michael Annett made his ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) debut at Iowa Speedway in 2007, few people, at least from the ARS world, had much knowledge of the Des Moines, Iowa native. However, that changed in a hurry when the 21-year-old driver won the SIM Factory Pole Award and finished third in the race.
Annett's been in the headlines ever since with back-to-back superspeedway victories at Talladega Superspeedway in 2007 and Daytona Int'l Speedway to start the season off in 2008.
Through it all, Annett, in five career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, has not yet finished out of the top-10. Further, Annett's never qualified worse than third. Other finishes include sixth at Gateway Int'l Raceway and eighth at Nashville Superspeedway.
"I expect to run up front," said Annett. "I have a lot of confidence in myself and the equipment I'm in. As competitive as the ARCA RE/MAX Series is, to run up front you've got to be with a good team. I ran my first three ARCA races with Country Joe Racing, and now with Bill Davis Racing, so I've always been with really good teams. I put pressure on myself. I'm with an excellent team now; everything's in place. It's up to me from here."
So far, so good. With back-to-back Talladega/Daytona wins, he's two for two in the win column with the Bill Davis Racing Toyota team, the same team he's headed to Iowa with.
Having said that, all Iowa eyes will most assuredly be fixed on Annett when the Prairies Meadows 250 rolls off LIVE on SPEED at 1:30 pm eastern time, Saturday, April 19th. Being from nearby Des Moines, he considers Iowa Speedway his hometown track.
"It's (Iowa) definitely my favorite track. It's so smooth, and with the progressive banking you can literally pass just about anywhere on the track. But with the harsh winter we've had out here, I think there may be some bumps now off turn two, but that just gives the track some character.
"I've actually raced at Iowa three times now - once in the ARCA RE/MAX Series car and twice in a late model. I just love the track. We've got as much experience on the track as anyone, so we definitely think we can go back and run up front."
Despite being caught up in some on-track incidents at Iowa in '07, Annett was still a victory lane contender.
"I was actually a little surprised with the finish considering all that happened in the race. A lapped car got loose when I was passing him and we spun out. Then we got caught up in that wreck in turn one and tore the left front fender off. But the Country Joe crew got me back out and we were still competitive."
Northland Oil, a company based out of Waterloo, Iowa, will be his primary sponsor on the no. 28 Bill Davis Racing Toyota at Iowa with associate sponsorship from Pilot Travel Centers and All State Peterbilt.
In addition to running all the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series superspeedway events - as well as Rockingham - Annett is planning on running a couple of NASCAR Nationwide Series races this year with the Bill Davis Racing team. He hopes to move up into the Nationwide Series fulltime in 2009.
"We made a call to Bill Davis Racing early last year to see what our options were. They said that if they made it through Daytona, that we could maybe do something at Talladega. I guess you could say Talladega was an audition for us. Fortunately, we came out of there in good shape and everything fell into place from there.
"I'm really looking forward to running with the ARCA RE/MAX Series this year. I think it's the best series to learn in. You're running the heavier 3,400 lb cars with 800 horsepower, very similar to Cup. And you're racing on the same tracks we all aspire to race at in NASCAR, so I really think it's the best series to groom drivers in."
Annett's ARCA RE/MAX Series plans include the full ARS superspeedway schedule. He currently leads the Hoosier Superspeedway Challenge points headed to Kansas Speedway for the next superspeedway race on the tour on April 25th.
But first, it's onto his hometown track Iowa Speedway where the X-hockey player is looking for the Hawkeye Hat-Trick. In layman's terms, Annett will try and make it three for three for Bill Davis Racing in this weekend's Prairie Meadows 250 at Iowa Speedway. Sounds like a great story.
Two practice sessions for the third annual Prairie Meadows 250 at Iowa Speedway are scheduled from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm local time Friday, April 18th. SIM Factory Pole Award Qualifying is at 9:00 am local time Saturday, April 19th followed by the Prairie Meadows 250 LIVE on SPEED TV at 1:30 pm Eastern time.