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Sunday May 20th, 2018 6:00AM

Michael Self survives Daytona, wins wild ARCA opener

By Don Radebaugh
  Contact Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Like he was shot out of a cannon, Michael Self, on the last lap, jumped out to a 10-length advantage in overtime to win the wild ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil 200 Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Self 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 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.

“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 teammates Tom Hessert and Natalie Decker finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving VMS three finishes inside the top-five.

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

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 Tennessee’s Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville Saturday night, April 7.

ARCA Racing Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Lucas Oil 200 – February 9, 2018

1. Michael Self
2. Willie Mullins
3. Sheldon Creed
4. Tom Hessert
5. Natalie Decker
6. Max Tullman
7. Noah Gragson
8. Leilani Munter
9. Andrew Belmont
10. Riley Herbst
11. Jerry De Weerdt
12. Bobby Gerhart
13. Kirk Horton
14. Thomas Praytor
15. John Ferrier
16. Chuck Hiers
17. Scott Reeves
18. Con Nicolopoulos
19. Andy Seuss
20. Sean Corr
21. Chase Purdy
22. Travis Braden
23. Brad Smith
24. Bret Holmes
25. Gus Dean
26. Zane Smith
27. Mark Thompson
28. Dave Mader III
29. Tony Mrakovich
30. Will Rodgers
31. Bo LeMastus
32. Quin Hoff
33. Bryan Dauzat
34. Daniel Sasnett
35. Ed Pompa
36. Jesse Iwuji
37. Grant Quinlan
38. Codie Rohrbaugh
39. Ronnie Osmer

  • Associated Categories: NASCAR News, Other Motorsports
  • Associated Tags: motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, ARCA Racing Series, daytona
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