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Michael Self Scores Fourth ARCA Menards Series Win of 2019 – and First Career Dirt Win – in Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield

Although he dominated the second half of the ARCA Menards Series Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil, Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) held off his Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio/Illinois Truck & Equipment Toyota) on a two-lap dash to the checkered to earn his fourth series victory of the season.

Self, the current series championship leader, took the lead from another Venturini Motorsports teammate and General Tire Pole Award winner Logan Seavey (No. 20 Craftsman Toyota) shortly after halfway. From there, Self build a nearly four-second advantage over the field until an incident in turn four involving Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) and Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford) with less than ten laps to go. The race would get restarted at the scheduled conclusion, lap 100, for a green-white-checkered dash to the checkered.

Self got the break on the restart and battled side-by-side with upstart rookie Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford), but the two made contact in turns three and four. Self dashed to the lead while Heim dropped through the field allowing Eckes to move into second.

“I did not want to see that last yellow,” Self said. “I was really nervous about it. I knew we had to get a great restart. It was pretty wild going off into turns one and two.”

For his part, Heim was disappointed but he knew what to expect going into the final couple of laps.

“We just got pushed up into the loose dirt in turns three and four,” Heim said. “If I was in that position that’s what I would have done too. It sucks we lost all those positions. We stayed patient all day and worked the bottom groove and did what we needed to do.”

Eckes was happy to come across the line in second knowing he could have given up a lot more ground to Self in the ARCA Menards Series championship battle.

“We’re happy with second but we needed more than that today,” Eckes said. “We were fourth before that last restart so it could have been worse than that. It’s just a shame we gave up everything we picked up at Pocono.”

Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet) was third, Seavey fourth, and Will Kimmel (No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford) was fifth.

Self continues to lead the ARCA Menards Series championship standings with an unofficial 105-point lead over Eckes headed into the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin on August 31.

The race was slowed just four times by cautions. The first was for a crash involving Eric Caudell (No. 7 Honoring America’s Warriors Dodge) on the opening lap. The second yellow of the day was on lap 10 for rain, which forced a 12-minute delay while the track crew worked the dirt surface of the track. The third yellow of the afternoon waved on lap 27 for a spin involving Tim Richmond (No. 06 GreatRailing.com Dodge), and the final yellow for the spin involving Gibbs and Graf waved on lap 94.

Self’s winning average speed was 76.917 miles per hour. His margin of victory over Eckes was 0.363 seconds.

The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the Southern Illinois 100 on Saturday night August 31. Practice starts at 2:30 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 5:30 pm CT, and the race is set for 8 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV; ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates for registered users.

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Michael Self Stops Ty Majeski’s Win Streak with His Third ARCA Menards Series Win in VizCom 200 at Michigan

Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) dominated the first 90 laps of the ARCA Menards Series VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway, but needed a last lap pass to score his third series win of the season. Self snuck past Ty Majeski (No. 22 Crestliner Boats Ford), who was attempting to run the final 50 laps of the race on one tank of fuel, in turn three of the final lap.

Self led at will over the first 90 laps of the race, at times building a nine-second advantage over the field. He made his final pit stop of the night on lap 90, giving the lead to Majeski. With wins at Charlotte and Pocono, Majeski was looking for his third consecutive series victory and it looked like he had a chance to pull it off. But as he entered the final set of corners on the final lap his fuel tank ran dry and Self blew by to take the lead and the win.

“Any time you’re up against a driver like Ty and his team you know it’s going to be tough,” Self said. “When my spotter told me the 22 was going to try to stretch it, I knew they had a good chance of making it because they’re that good. They came on the radio and said he sputtered a little when he came across the stripe to take the white, but he was still under power off of turn two and it made my heart sink a little bit. But then we got to three and he had run out of fuel and I knew we had him. He did what he needed to do and tried to block me but there’s just too much room here and we were able to get by.”

Self credited his third win of the season to a call on pit road by crew chief Shannon Rursch.

“When we heard they were going to try to stretch it to the end, we knew we had to get off pit road really quickly,” Self said. “We didn’t take tires because we knew if we did it would take too much time. It turns out that we needed all the time we could just to get to him. If we took tires we wouldn’t have had the time to catch him on the last lap, even if he did run out of fuel. This win is all because of Shannon on the guys in the pits.”

Despite narrowly missing out on his third straight series victory, Majeski was upbeat with his runner-up finish.

“That was the only shot we had and we almost made it,” Majeski said. “We had a lot of issues today. First we had a plug wire come loose, and then the digital dash came unplugged. We didn’t know how much fuel pressure we had or what the RPM was so making a green flag stop would have been a disaster. Our only chance was the try to stretch it. We did everything we could. If I ran any harder, we would have run out sooner. If I saved any more he would have caught me and passed us. This is the first time I’ve ever been in the position to have to save fuel and I think I did a pretty good job the circumstances just didn’t work out in our favor today.”

Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet) finished third, Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Chevrolet) was fourth, and Tanner Gray (No. 54 Gray Motorsports/Valvoline/Durst, Inc. Toyota) rounded out the top five. For Holmes, it was his best finish of the season and for Graf it was his first top-five of the season.

“Shane Huffman and I have really hit it off this season,” Holmes said. “Last year at this time we were running tenth every week, this year we’re running up in the top five and fighting for wins. It’s only a matter of time until we get one.”

The race was slowed once by caution for an incident involving Brandon McReynolds. He made contact with the wall in turn three and coasted to a stop on the frontstretch on lap 48, right as many of the leaders were on pit road. Some, like Graf, were able to get off pit road without losing a lap, while others, like Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) weren’t able to get off pit road in time and were trapped a lap down. Braden would eventually go on to finish seventh.

Self and Majeski traded the lead four times on the afternoon, with Self leading 86 laps and Majeski leading the other 14. The lone caution was for seven laps, which allowed the race to be completed in a brisk one hour and 12 minutes at an average speed of 165.365 miles per hour.

Self unofficially leads the championship standings by 60 points over Holmes and 100 points over Braden in third.

The ARCA Menards Series returns to action Friday, June 14 in the Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway. Practice is scheduled for 2 pm ET/1 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 6 pm ET/5 pm CT and the green flag on the tenth race of the 2019 season will fly shortly after 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. Discounted tickets are available at Madison-area Menards locations. The race will be televised live on MAVTV; ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login.

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OBSERVATIONS: Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway

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.

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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Michael Self Goes Singing in the Rain to Victory Lane in Salem

Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) scored his second consecutive ARCA Menards Series victory in Sunday’s rain-shortened Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway. Self started fourth, took the lead at lap 27 and from there he dominated until Mother Nature intervened at lap 98.

 “I owe all of this to my Venturini Motorsports guys,” Self said in a makeshift victory celebration. “We knew yesterday we were going to have a good racecar. We didn’t have a lot of qualifying speed but we knew once the race started, especially if it was cool and cloudy, that we’d be good.”

Self led handily over the rest of the field and with a long green flag run to open the race, he had lapped up to the third position. The first caution of the day waved at lap 89 when Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/Terrible Herbst/ORCA Coolers/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) spun in turn two. With potential weather off in the distance, there was a decision to be made whether or not to hit pit road.

“There was no way we weren’t coming at that point,” Self said. “We had lapped up to third so we knew even if no one else came we would be third at worst. Tires make such a big deal here that even if we had just a few laps under green we knew we’d get back to the front pretty quickly.”

Self’s Venturni Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) stayed out to take the lead under the caution, but pitted with one to go.

“We just did that to hedge our bets,” team owner Billy Venturini said. “We knew rain was coming and we didn’t want another team to steal the win by not pitting. We left Chandler out until we knew we’d go back racing and then once the one to go was given we brought him down. Michael and the 25 team had the car to beat today and as far as we’re concerned the race ended up the way it should have. It didn’t matter if we ran 300 laps today, no one was going to beat them.”

Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) finished a career-best second. He avoided multiple opportunities to get tied up in incidents on his way to the finish.

“Starting a little further in the back we had a lot of chances to get caught up in some of things,” Mayer said. “It was a little adventurous but Mardy Lindley and the GMS Racing guys gave me a great car. It took me a while to get used to the race track but once we got it figured out we were pretty fast.”

Carson Hocevar (No. 28 Scott’s/Berger Chevrolet/KBR Development Chevrolet) started from the General Tire Pole and led the first 27 laps before Self worked past for the lead. Hocevar then went into tire conservation mode, saving tires while he planned on a late race dash to the checkered. The rain ruined Hocevar’s strategy, leaving him third at the finish.

“We were just riding around there saving tires,” Hocevar said. “I wish we could have run all 200 laps because I think we could have given the 25 a run for his money.”

ARCA Menards Series championship leader Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) was scheduled to start from the second position but was withdrawn from the race by his Venturini Motorsports team just hours before the race with an undisclosed illness. Eckes was replaced by Daytona winner Harrison Burton. After dropping to the tail of the field for the start, Burton worked his way through the pack to finish eighth.

Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) scraped the wall near the 80-lap mark and lost several laps on pit road to affect repairs. Despite the finish, Braden assumes the unofficial ARCA Menards Series championship lead by just five points over Self and by just 20 points over third place Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Southern States Bank Chevrolet).

Next on the schedule for the ARCA Menards Series is the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, April 27. Practice is slated for 9:30 am ET/8:30 am CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT, and the green flag on the race set for 6 pm ET/5 pm CT. The race will be televised live on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat for free at ARCARacing.com. New users can register at ARCARacing.com/login.

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Michael Self Rebounds from Daytona Disappointment with Five Flags Checkered Flag

After a short night in the season opener at Daytona, Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) rebounded in the second race of the ARCA Menards Series season with a dominant win in the ARCA Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions at Five Flags Speedway.

Self led 39 laps midway through the race and retook the lead from Kaden Honeycutt (No. 38 Kaden Honeycutt Racing Ford) with 29 laps remaining to score his fourth career series win and his first ever series short track victory.

“This is a big deal for me,” Self said. “A short track in ARCA has eluded me. Even though I don’t think I am a great short track racer, I have had some success in the K&N Series on short tracks. For some reason is just hasn’t translated over here. Maybe this will kick start it.

“I had a lot of confidence in our car. The Venturini Motorsports team as a whole is really good. Whenever we go to one of these short tracks the rest of the year we should be in good shape. I wouldn’t want to be racing against them right now because I am not sure I would be able to beat them.”

Self finished ahead of Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Advance Auto Parts Toyota), who finished second in his ARCA Menards Series debut. He passed Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) for the second position in the final turn of the final lap.

“I am really happy with finishing second in my first race, but I really think we had the car to beat,” Gibbs said. “I let the car roll off the jack a little on the last stop and it cost us a little time on pit road. I think that cost us the race, but we learned a lot and I am ready to get to the next race at Salem.”

Eckes held on for third, albeit with damage to the nose of his racecar.

“It happened early in the race and I didn’t think it really effected the way the car ran then, but looking at it now I am not so sure,” Eckes said. “It would have been nice to hold Ty off for second but we’ll take third. I think we come out of here with the points lead so it’s a great night for the Venturini team.”

Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) led the first 38 laps after starting from the General Tire Pole. He crossed the line in fourth, just in front of Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford) who finished fifth in his series debut.

The race was only slowed twice by caution flags, each for debris. The race took just one hour, 12 minutes, and 23 seconds and was completed at an average speed of 82.802 miles per hour, a record pace for a 200-lap race at Five Flags. The previous record, 75.205 miles per hour, was set by Gary Bradberry in 1994.

Self’s official margin of victory was 1.506 seconds over Gibbs.

Unoffically, Eckes leads the ARCA Menards Series championship standings with 435 points. Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Healthcare/Liberty Village Ford), who finished tenth, sits second at 370, sixth place finisher Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Southern States Bank Chevrolet) is third with 340, Self is fourth with 315, and eleventh-place finisher Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EatSleepRace.com Ford) is fifth with 300.

The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway on April 14. The race will be televised live on MAVTV starting at 2 pm Eastern. ARCARacing.com will have free live timing & scoring, track updates, and user chat for ARCA for Me members; new members can register at ARCARacing.com/login.