- Associated Press - Thursday, August 2, 2012

The joy of a top-five finish wears off pretty fast nowadays for Michael Annett.

He says it’s time to win.

There would be no better place for a breakthrough than Iowa Speedway in Newton, 30 miles east of Annett’s hometown of Des Moines.

Annett goes into Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 on a career-best run and as one of the hottest drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He came in sixth last week at Indianapolis and was in the top five in three of four races before that.

“We’re definitely hoping to use everything we’ve learned this last month-and-a-half and bring home a trophy rather than getting excited about a third or fourth,” Annett said.

The 26-year-old is among three native Iowans in the Nationwide field this week.

Joey Gase of Cedar Rapids will be in Go Green Racing’s No. 39 Chevrolet in his 11th start of the year and 16th of his career. Brett Moffitt of Grimes, the points leader in the K&N Pro Series East, will drive RAB Racing’s No. 99 Toyota Camry in his first career Nationwide start.

Annett, who signed with Richard Petty Motorsports after driving for Rusty Wallace last year, will be competing in his 125th Nationwide race since 2008. He has more than $3.6 million in career earnings and, at sixth in the point standings, is well on his way to his best year.

He earned an extra $100,000 last week for finishing highest among four eligible drivers at Indy in Nationwide’s “Dash4Cash” bonus program. He’ll go for another $100,000 bonus at Iowa, this time against Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Annett has led in three races this year, but his best career finish remains third, to Kurt Busch and Stenhouse last month at Daytona.

He’ll be driving for the sixth time at Iowa Speedway. He was 12th in last year’s U.S. Cellular 250 and was dealt a disappointing blow in his most recent appearance at the track.

He thought his No. 43 Ford was good enough to win the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 in May. He came in 14th despite having to contend with a loose spark-plug wire that cut his engine power to seven cylinders for half the race.

“We felt we let one get away a couple months ago,” Annett said, “so I’m looking forward to this one even more.”

Annett said he and his crew chief, Phillippe Lopez, have never been more confident.

“We know what we need to do to run top five, top 10,” he said. “We need to make the next step.”

Story Continues →