Self Steps Up to Avoid Catastrophe and Finishes Third at Iowa
Concord, North Carolina (July 22, 2019) – Championship point leader Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) turned in a gutsy performance and increased his series lead over second-place Bret Holmes over the weekend with a hard fought third-place finish during race number 14 of the ARCA Menards Series season at Iowa Speedway.
Self, who was part of a Venturini Motorsports’ team trio to capture the podium in the sweltering Iowa heat, was forced to overcome a gearbox issue on the way to securing his series leading 10th top-five finish of the season. Stuck in fourth gear from the onset of Friday’s 150 lap race, Self was relegated to the back of the pack, often outside the top-ten, on each restart and was forced to pass the same cars repeatedly as he charged back to the front.
Starting from the second position after a strong qualifying effort that saw him miss out on the pole by merely .001-seconds behind VMS teammate Chandler Smith, Self would run up front and maintain a quiet radio until the first caution of the night on lap 10. While riding under yellow Self clicked his mic informing the team his car was stuck in fourth gear. After a quick pit stop to assess the situation, Self was sent back out with no remedy to the problem. Several cautions throughout the middle of the race saw Self repeatedly drop from a top-five position to outside the top-ten, but after a 30-lap green flag run Self drove his No. 25 Sinclair-powered machine to the second position with 10 laps to go and was in hot pursuit of the leader until a final caution flag flew with just eight laps remaining. The green flag came back out with three laps left, and like previous restarts Self fell outside the top-five. But, determined to avoid catastrophe, the 28-year-old Self kept his cool and remarkably found a way to navigate his Sinclair Toyota back to third place at the finish line despite the disadvantage.
"The only time we had all the gears was on the initial start of the race," Self said. "Every other restart we would drop back through the field and have to pass our way back towards the front. It really felt like it was one of the most physical races I've ever driven because I was racing hard every lap to gain back the spots we’d lose on the restarts. I was not happy when that yellow came out with less than 10 to go. We were in a great position despite everything that had happened and I figured we were doomed with another restart with just a few laps to go, but our car was really strong. We only fell back to seventh or so on that one and were able to get back up to third, so I guess that’s decent. It’s disappointing to have had another mechanical issue when I felt like we had a car that could’ve competed for the win, but I’m glad we salvaged a decent day despite everything."
Next up for the ARCA Menards Series is the FORTS USA 150 at Pocono Raceway on Friday, July 26. Practice starts at 9 am ET with General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 1:35 pm ET and the green flag on the FORTS USA 150 set to fly at 4 pm ET. The race will be televised live flag to flag on FS1.