Annett is in his first full season driving for HScott Motorsports, which expanded to two full-time teams in 2015. Annett began the year with a 13th-place finish in a backup car in the Daytona 500, improving on his career-best 16th at Talladega in 2014 when he drove for Tommy Baldwin Racing. However, he missed the next race at Atlanta after a controversially slow inspection process and had to buy Circle Sports’ #33 for the race. He finished 38th or worse in the next five straight races and came to Bristol 35th in points. However, the Bristol track also saw Annett finish 23rd in the spring, which was tied with Kansas for his second-best finish behind Daytona.
Annett timed in 24th in Friday’s opening practice and 28th in Happy Hour, but could only manage 35th in qualifying with a lap of 127.241 mph. Still, the lap was more than enough to keep him from using a provisional in the biggest entry list since Indianapolis. Missing the race were Travis Kvapil, who was driving the #30 Chevrolet in The Motorsports Group’s first Cup attempt since Kentucky in July, rookie Jeb Burton, who spun in practice driving the #26 Rocky Ridge Estes Toyota for BK Racing, and Reed Sorenson’s unsponsored #62 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet.
The 43rd starting spot on Saturday went to Mike Bliss, who was making his first Cup start since Michigan in June and his first of the year for Circle Sport. Bliss’ unsponsored black #33 Chevrolet only held the spot for a few seconds as on the first lap Annett’s #46 slowed so suddenly with a transmission issue that he was already on the apron of Turn 2 and making his way to pit road. The crew tried to make repairs, but then found the #46 wouldn’t re-fire and the battery only read 13 volts. Around Lap 32, Annett pulled behind the wall, but by Lap 66 he was officially out with engine trouble as the listed reason.
42nd went to spring Bristol winner Matt Kenseth, who had worked his way from 13th to 4th on Lap 110 when his car suddenly blew smoke going into Turn 1, dropping him out of the race with engine failure. Several cars were already lapped by this point, so it wasn’t until Lap 115 that he slipped to his final finishing position.
41st went to Kyle Larson, who first cut a left-front tire and hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 126, worked his way to 21st, then hit the Turn 4 wall much harder on Lap 359, knocking his #42 Target Chevrolet out of the event.
40th went to 4th-place starter David Ragan, who was still in the Top 5 on Lap 371 when he was turned into the inside wall after contact from Jimmie Johnson and teammate Clint Bowyer. Ragan returned to the track 45 laps down with the front valence removed, but finally fell out when he couldn’t catch the lapped #98 of last week’s last-placer Timmy Hill, who was this time in Premium Motorsports’ Ford with last-minute sponsorship from BigDaddyRVs.com.
*This is the first time a Cup Series last-placer at Bristol failed to complete the opening lap since August 26, 1978, when Bill Green’s series debut ended after his #36 B&G Chevrolet was involved in an opening-lap crash in the Volunteer 500, won by Cale Yarborough. Green a 33-year-old driver from Edgewood, Kentucky, made just one other start when he came home 34th at Michigan on June 17, 1979. He passed away in 2001.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #46 in a Cup Series race since September 10, 2011, when Scott Speed’s #46 T&T Performance Ford fielded by Whitney Motorsports was involved in an early crash during the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond. The #46 had never before finished last in a Cup race at Bristol.
*This marks the first time a Cup Series last-placer failed to complete a single lap since October 6, 2013, when Danica Patrick’s #10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet was involved in an opening-lap crash during the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #46-Michael Annett / 0 laps / engine
42) #20-Matt Kenseth / 110 laps / engine
41) #42-Kyle Larson / 356 laps / crash
40) #55-David Ragan / 443 laps / crash
39) #98-Timmy Hill / 476 laps / running
2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill (3)
2nd) J.J. Yeley (2)
3rd) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Michael Annett, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Timmy Hill, Sam Hornish, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Tony Stewart, Josh Wise (1)
2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (3)
2nd) BK Racing, Go FAS Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports (2)
3rd) Front Row Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)
2015 LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (14)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (3)
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