Although there were certainly some people enjoying the rain at Salem Speedway on Sunday, it wasn’t a sight that the majority could smile about.
Just past the halfway mark, the ARCA Menards Racing Series Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 was called as a result of weather, handing Michael Self his second straight victory. The Venturini Motorsports driver didn’t just luck into the win, though, as he was dominant through the first 100 laps. Taking the lead from Carson Hocevar on Lap 27, he didn’t look back en route to extending his gap over the field. The speed of his Toyota shined through when he was able to lap up to third-place before the caution came out.
It could be argued through the past couple seasons that Self has been lost in the Venturini shuffle. While many focused on the likes of Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Natalie Decker, the driver of the No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota has been a constant solid fixture. Prior to this season, he had won three races with 10 top-five’s in 16 series starts. Though running a partial schedule with connection to a development program lacked the focus.
This year, the story is different as Self will run the full schedule for Venturini Motorsports and contend for the championship. With back-to-back victories, he has moved himself up to fourth in the standings despite wrecking out of the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. With Venturini’s success in the series, don’t expect for him to slow down, either.
The championship fight this year has been debatable, given questions surrounding how many drivers are truly going to run the full schedule and how the teams will stack up. Unfortunately, Eckes is going to be out of the equation after missing Sunday’s race due to fighting flu-like symptoms – and that’s a big blow as he entered Salem as the points leader and was able to win three races last year. Hopefully he can get feeling better as soon as possible.
Dude. Today was a joke. Rains for 15 minutes then sun comes out and wind is blowing let’s call it!
— Chandler Smith (@CSmithDrive) April 14, 2019
Perhaps the officials could’ve waited longer before calling the race, but there was more rain expected to fall and the grounds were wet given the amount of participation before the event.
It would have been interesting to see Sunday’s race play out without the weather, given the level of talent at the front of the field. Pole sitter and eventual third-place finisher Hocevar stated post-race that he was focused on saving tires for the second half of the race, while NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Bristol race winner Sam Mayer was in the runner-up spot intrigued to see if the adjustments would’ve been enough.
Instead, we are forced to focus forward as big drama lies ahead with Talladega Superspeedway next on the schedule.
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