Photo: Venturini Motorsports

Michael Self Withstands Carnage to Win Daytona ARCA Opener

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Despite a host of late-race carnage, Michael Self started the ARCA Racing Series season off the same way he ended 2017 – in victory lane.

Self survived two late pileups to win Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway.

The Park City, Utah native took the lead after the first attempt at a one-lap shootout on lap 87 went haywire in Turn 3. The top four of Sean Corr, Sheldon Creed, Chase Purdy and Travis Braden ran side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper in rows of two until things tightened up, resulting in a melee that collected all four drivers.

The first driver to make it through the accident unscathed was Self, who was running fifth beforehand.

On the final restart Self cleared Willie Mullins before crossing the start-finish line. By the time Self’s No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota entered Turn 1, he was several car lengths ahead of Mullins and teammate Tom Hessert.

Self took the checkered flag 0.562 seconds clear of Mullins to claim the victory.

In victory lane the 27-year-old credited survival and guidance from his Venturini race team for his second-career ARCA win.

“I got lucky,” Self said. “I made it through a couple of wrecks and overcame a lot. This thing is rough and beat up.

“Kevin (Reed, crew chief), Billy (Venturini, general manager), Mike Herman Jr. (spotter) and those guys just guided me. They told me every single thing I needed to do. They drove this car from the outside. I made mistakes and they helped me overcome them and now we’re here.”

Despite being involved in the crash, Creed salvaged a third place finish. Self’s teammates rounded out the top five, with Hessert finishing fourth and pole sitter Natalie Decker crossing the line in fifth for her first top five.

Max Tullman, Noah Gragson, Leilani Münter, Andrew Belmont and Riley Herbst rounded out the top 10.

Out of the 39 drivers who started race, just 19 survived to the finish, with several cars sustaining body damage.

Saturday’s race saw 10 lead changes among six drivers. The race was also slowed down seven times for 20 laps of caution, with two of those yellows resulting in lengthy red flags.

From the high banks of Daytona to the historic short track in Nashville, Tennessee, the ARCA drivers will make their next stop on April 7 for the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.

The full race results can be seen here: Lucas Oil 200 Driven by by General Tire Results

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.