Michael Annett returns to his home track, Iowa Speedway, this weekend with great anticipation. This will be the Des Moines, Iowa native's third race back in the No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford since the season-opener at Daytona, where he suffered a broken and dislocated sternum.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to Iowa," said Annett. "The track has really started to form into its own and has some pretty unique characteristics. One thing that I noticed last season is the second groove is really starting to come in more than I've seen the first four years. It seems like whoever gets through the bump in Turns 1 and 2 can stay in the gas and carry momentum down the backstretch to have a good race.
"Some of the characteristics remind me a lot of Richmond. You really arc it into Turn 1 and carry a lot of speed off and turn down as late as you can. Turns 3 and 4 are kind of an afterthought. You really concentrate on one end of the racetrack, kind of like we do at Richmond.
"It's a lot of fun. I think as far as fan support and excitement it's one of the best tracks we go to because we are the premier race each season. There's no Cup race, so I think they get the most excited about us coming and you definitely see it throughout the race weekend. I just really enjoy this weekend and can't wait to get to Iowa."
Crew Chief Philippe Lopez added: "Iowa is another one of those unique racetracks. There's not another one like it on the circuit. It's a little bit bigger than Richmond but a little bit smaller than Phoenix. It has its own character and its own bumps that you have to get through. I feel like that's where we were pretty good last year. The way we could manage the low line proved to be advantageous.
"We ran really well there last fall. We are going to be unloading very similar with some new stuff that we learned this year. Obviously, with not a lot of Cup driver participation, it gives it a special feel for the teams. All of the Nationwide drivers look at this as a golden opportunity, but sometimes, it ends up being a slug-fest..."