DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2018) — Like he was shot out of a cannon, Salt Lake City, Utah’s Michael Self, on the last lap, jumped out to a 10-length advantage in overtime to win the wild ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire Saturday night at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Self, in the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports-prepared Sinclair Lubricants Toyota, also survived two late-race multi-car crashes to get in position for the biggest win of his career.
“Survived man…just survived,” said Self in victory lane.
“I got really lucky. I made it through all the wrecks. This thing is rough…it’s beat up. I made some mistakes, but we were able to overcome them. I had a lot of help on the radio…that’s why we’re here. This is especially great for Sinclair. It’s insane how rewarding this feels. That company took a chance on me. They’re from my home state, and that’s really special.”
With the leaders bunched up the entire way, even Self had no idea how he managed to drive away from the pack in the end.
“I have no idea how we got that big lead…I really don’t. The car just took off. I was worried going down the backstretch…all those cars behind me with all that momentum. Those guys just seemed to stall each other out behind me.”
Two multi-car wrecks inside of 10 laps remaining sent the race into overtime during which several cars crashed on the backstretch coming to the checkered flag, including leaders Sean Corr, Chase Purdy and Travis Braden. That put Self in the lead for the final restart, the second attempt at a one-lap finish.
Willie Mullins, in his own No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling-CW Metals-Bugsy’s Auto Ford, dodged all the wrecks and came home second, a career-best for the Fredericksburg, Virginia driver.
“We had a really good plan,” said Mullins. “Drop back from our ninth starting position and drop to the back, conserve fuel and make sure we were there at the end. Then we finally ran up to the front. I’m just so thankful for this all volunteer crew. We do this out of a little garage in Virginia. I couldn’t be happier.”
Sheldon Creed finished third in the No. 28 United Rentals Toyota for MDM Motorsports.
“We started in the back…it worked out kind of nice tonight,” said Creed. “We saved so much fuel in the beginning. Then we got sucked up in the draft…it’s how we got to the front. We got some really good pushes from the 54 and 27. It’s all about making deals with the drivers around you. We had good people around us all night.”
Self’s Venturini Motorsports (VMS) teammates Tom Hessert (No. 55 U.S. Turf Equipment Toyota) and Natalie Decker (No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota) finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving VMS three finishes inside the top-five.
Max Tullman finished sixth in the Zoomi-Myota Chevrolet for Mason Mitchell Motorsports. Noah Gragson gave DGR-CROSLEY a seventh-place finish in the No. 54 Switch-Safelite Auto Glass Toyota. Leilani Munter, also in a Venturini car, finished eighth in the No. 20 VeganStrong.com Toyota.
Andrew Belmont finished ninth in the No. 2 ModSpace Ford. Riley Herbst, in the No. 18 NOS-ORCA Coolers-Terrible Herbst-Advance Auto Parts Toyota, finished 10th.
From the 39-car starting field, 19 cars managed to wiggle around and through the wrecks to finish what turned out to be a 92-lap race, rather than the scheduled 80. Several drivers were taken to the infield care center. All were examined and released.
When asked about the continued attempts at green flag finishes, Self said, “I like racing all the way to the checkered flag. It’s what the fans want and I applaud ARCA for keeping that going.”
Mullins echoed something similar.
“We’re here to race to the checkered flag,” he said. “If we have to put it away all crumpled up in a box then so be it. The fans aren’t here to see a caution finish. As a racer, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville Saturday night, April 7.
By: Don Radebaugh