Months after their No. 43 driver was sidelined because of a broken sternum suffered at Daytona, RPM officially announced Tuesday that Michael Annett was cleared to drive in the Nationwide Series race this Saturday. The announcement comes a day after the driver himself tweeted he would be back in the No. 43 car this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"Pumped to announce I'll be making my return to the #43 car this weekend at Charlotte," Annett wrote Monday in a Twitter post. "Can't wait to get back in the seat!!!"
The 26-year-old Iowa native suffered a fractured and dislocated sternum when his vehicle hit the wall head-on in a crash in the Nationwide race on Feb. 23 at Daytona. Doctors discovered the injury days later, and Annett underwent surgery in which screws and a metal plate were used to repair the damage.
Annett had hoped to be back by the May 4 race at Talladega, but a scan the week before showed that his injury had not healed to the point where doctors would be comfortable with him withstanding another hit in the car. His return was instead pushed back to Saturday, which followed an off-week on the Nationwide schedule.
"You never know the unknown," Annett said last month, "but I don't really see anything keeping us out of the car beyond Charlotte."
Annett has missed the past eight races on the Nationwide schedule. During most of that stretch close friend Reed Sorenson has piloted the No. 43 car, with a best finish of 10th at Richmond. Following his surgery in late February, Annett was ordered by doctors to not lift anything heaver than 10 pounds. Early this month he began physical therapy that involved weight training exercises like the bench press.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver had his best NASCAR season last year, recording six top-fives and finishing fifth in final points.
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