Concord, North Carolina (February 11, 2019) – Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) barely had time to let the pre-race jitters subside before abruptly finding himself out of contention on lap three during Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series opening event at Daytona International Speedway.
After posting a strong qualifying effort and seemingly favorable sixth place starting spot, Self took the green flag in ARCA’s biggest race of the season optimistic about his chances of defending his Daytona victory from a year ago. Quickly maneuvering his Sinclair Oil sponsored Toyota down to the inside line the 35 car field began to build momentum while circling the intimidating 2.5-mile track side-by-side.
Racing behind teammate and eventual race winner Harrison Burton, Self found himself being prematurely pressured from behind by the No. 3 of Willie Mullins while the pack raced down the backstretch. After taking multiple shots to his rear bumper, Self broke loose moving up the track while Mullins attempted to drive underneath hitting the rear quarter panel sending Self’s 25 car airborne, landing hard on four wheels in the grass.
Sustaining significant mechanical damage Self was forced to bring his Toyota behind the wall while crew chief Shannon Rursch directed repairs. Dashing any chances of a Daytona repeat Self’s Sinclair Oil team jumped into action to get their driver back on track to salvage season accumulating points. Self would return and was credited with a 31st place finishing position.
“Getting wrecked on the third lap like that just sucks, especially in the first race,” said a disappointed Self. “I felt like we were in a great position with a fast car. We were just riding along with our teammates (Christian Eckes and Harrison Burton). It puts us in a tough spot being way behind in points, but I’m really excited about moving forward with the No. 25 team. I’m surrounded by a great group of people and feel like our team has great chemistry even though the year didn’t start like we wanted it to.”
Mimicking Self’s sentiments, VMS’ newest crew chief helped put things in perspective.
“Everyone gets a mulligan and this is ours,” said Shannon Rursch. “Unfortunately this is part of racing and what happened at Daytona is a byproduct of the game we play. Michael is a very experienced and focused driver. He’ll rebound. We’ve got a full season and I’m looking forward to our next race at Pensacola.”
Committed to running his first full season in the ARCA Menards Series, Self will make his next appearance when the series returns to action at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on March 9.