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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Michael Annett apologizes for DUI incident, vows to turn a new leaf

Rusty Wallace Racing driver Michael Annett, who recently rear-ended a car stopped at a red light in Mooresville, N.C. while he had a staggering blood alcohol content of .32, is getting the close watch of NASCAR in wake of the incident. He is on probation until Dec. 31, and will be evaluated by a certified substance abuse professional at NASCAR’s discretion and will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing.
Annett issued an apology this week.

"I think let down and embarrassment is kind of the key words for everybody. Last, is the NASCAR community. These people come here each weekend to watch us race and there's a lot of kids out there that look up to us as role models. If I had kids I think I would be the last real person that I would point to for them to look up to right now. I'm definitely owning up to the mistake I made and this is definitely the worst week of my life -- the lowest I've ever felt as a person.

Annett said it’s up to him to take this chance to turn his life around and put the bad behind him.
“This can go two ways,” he said. “It can either be the end of me or it can be the start of a new life and a better person, better driver and the word I
used earlier -- role model. This is definitely something that I think is going to end up to be a success story in the end and definitely have the people behind me and the support from Rusty Wallace, my family and everybody I listed earlier. I have everybody I need behind me to do this in turning this around and being a better person."

Of course, getting a DUI is especially bad when you consider these guys’ day jobs – driving a racecar. Annett said he is fully aware of this, in blunt fashion.

"We're professional athletes and we need to maintain a certain lifestyle so we have to drive. Driving while intoxicated -- besides shooting somebody, it's the worst thing you could possibly do. It was just a huge mistake on my part. It's something that no one should ever do. You can make a lot of mistakes in your life and that's one that you should just never
make. It was just a horrible judgment call on my part and it's something that is never going to happen again. We're definitely taking steps to make sure that it never happens again."

As stupid as what he did was, I’ll give the kid credit. He recognizes that he’s young, made a stupid decision and the future is his to decide. Considering he hasn’t even driven a race for Rusty’s team yet, he doesn’t want to blow this chance to make a career for himself, and I’m pretty sure he won’t repeat this level of stupidity in the future. Because if he does, he’ll get a healthy suspension and be on NASCAR’s naughty list possibly forever.

Annett went on to say the incident scared him, because of the terrible things that could have happened.

"It scared me that I could have killed somebody or even injured somebody. I could have injured myself. Not only just the people that were involved in the accident and I drove a ways until we got to that point. There's so many lives that I risked and then also it was a wake-up call, the fact that I made that bad of a decision to get behind the wheel that night. I need to sit back and think what kind of person am I, and I need to better my life and better my decisions and definitely need to start making a lot better judgment calls."

Bayne strong in qualifying
Among the biggest surprises in Daytona qualifying was the third place run for young Trevor Bayne, who will start behind Hendrick teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.

Bayne said he’s honored to be starting the biggest race of his career so close to the front.

“To be sitting third behind two of the most well-known drivers in NASCAR – Jeff Gordon my childhood hero – I mean, this is incredible. I can’t thank this Wood Brothers team enough and everybody at Ford Racing and Roush Yates for giving us a car like this to bring here.”

Bayne said he knows that to finish well in the 500, he will need to find other drivers to work with.
“Now, more than ever, you have to build those relationships and rely on them to help you as much as helping them. I would be fine with pushing somebody all day as long as we can finish second. I would be good with that, but I think we’ve got a really stout race car and they’ve done an awesome job all week with it.”

Skinner has truck series ride
Truck series mainstay Mike Skinner will continue his presence in that series in 2011, driving in the No. 45 Tundra for Eddie Sharp Racing.

"I'm thrilled for the opportunity to have Mike Skinner drive for us at Daytona," said team owner Eddie Sharp. "To have someone of his caliber drive for our young truck program is exciting. I have known Mike for many years, and I am thankful for his trust in our program and his relationship with Toyota. I'm really looking forward to working with him."

Skinner, a former champion in the truck series, said he’s ready to help Sharp make the move up from ARCA in the truck series.

"Eddie Sharp and I have been friends for a long time, and I have watched him win big in the ARCA Racing Series over the past few years," said Skinner. "He came to me a few years ago and told me about his goal to move into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I think it is exciting to be able to work together and help him accomplish this dream in his first full season in NASCAR."

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