NASCAR: HScott announces second car for Michael Annett

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HScott Motorsports will expand to a two-car operation in the Sprint Cup Series this year with the addition of second-year driver Michael Annett.

Last week, Motor Racing Network announcer Dave Moody had reported on his blog that Annett would be going to HScott and take his Pilot/Flying J Truck Stops sponsorship with him.

Indeed, the team confirmed today on the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte that such backing would be with Annett, who joins forces with fellow sophomore driver Justin Allgaier.

Neither a crew chief or a car number for Annett was announced.

“We’re really excited to have Michael on board and looking forward to working with him, getting to know him, and putting some equipment under him that can really showcase his talent,” said team owner Harry Scott Jr., who added that his goal is to have the team rise into the Top 20 in Cup points this year.

“Having an additional car is gonna provide some economies of scale for us, and basically double our resources and double our data points. I’ve had multiple conversations with [Allgaier’s crew chief/team competition director] Steve Addington about his plan and he’s got a solid plan to make the best of having two cars this year and utilize our resources to get even better.”

Annett noted that as fellow rookies, he and Allgaier were initially parked together in the garages last year. But as Allgaier and HScott began to pick up the pace in the second half of 2014 (eight Top-20 finishes in Allgaier’s final 15 starts), Annett saw Allgaier get “further and further away from me to ask questions.”

That made an impression on Annett, and when a late-developing chance came along to join Allgaier and HScott, he took it.

“I think I got into the sport about the time [team owner] Harry [Scott] was getting into it,” Annett said. “And to see what every organization he’s come into – whether it was K&N [Pro Series], XFINITY, [Camping World] Truck Series – it doesn’t take very long at all for them to have success and I think we saw that last year with having a brand-new Cup team.

“To be able to jump right into an organization that I feel like was really on a roll last year and is gonna keep going and keep getting better is just a huge opportunity for me.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”