CONCORD, NC – SEPTEMBER 10, 2019: Current ARCA Menards Series Points leader Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) returns to the ultra-fast, gritty half-mile at Salem Speedway to defend his springtime race victory in Saturday night’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200.
A four-time tour winner in 2019, Self picked up his second victory of the season back in April during the rain shortened ARCA race at Salem Speedway.
“Salem is probably my favorite short track on the schedule, so I’m excited to get back and race it again, but expectation-wise I know this is a different day with different conditions than we had in the Spring,” says the 28-year old driver from Utah.
“While we’re bringing back the car we won with, we have to expect that things will be different and we aren’t just going to walk in and pick up where we left off without some work and adaptation”
One of the obvious differences between Salem’s first race and now is the fact Self enters Saturday’s annual “Fall Classic” with Championship implications on the line.
Returning to series action with a 70-point advantage in the point standings over Christian Eckes, Self commented on the dynamics of racing his teammate with so much on the line.
“I’ve really enjoyed racing with Christian (Eckes) all year,” added Self. “He races clean, but hard, and it’s actually been cool to see how much he’s progressed from the start of last year to now, even as his competitor. I know we both want to win the championship on track, but I think we can separate that off the track and maintain our good relationship and enjoy these last couple weeks of racing together.
“I feel like all the Venturini cars have really been each other’s primary competition all year. It’s nice to know that the team performs well as a whole, and we can all learn from each other. I really try and race everyone the same whether they’re a teammate or not, so I’m not sure the dynamic actually changes from one car to another, but obviously I don’t want there to be any turmoil within the team or my friends there.”
Separating the overall team aspect of the equation Self gives praise to his crew chief and the Sinclair Oil team.
“My crew chief Shannon (Rursch) has just been a huge component of this twenty-five team – and my personal success this year. He’s great with setups and car knowledge, but his attitude also really helps drive things. He’s very even-keel, so when I get frustrated he does a good job keeping me in check, and I feel like we have a strong relationship and friendship which is an important piece of the chemistry our team has.”
With only three races remaining to determine this year’s ARCA Menards Series Championship Self is confident and shares his thoughts on the road ahead.
“It’s nice going to tracks that I’ve raced at before to begin with. Springfield and DuQuoin were both totally new for me so there was a big learning curve there, and now looking ahead to Salem, Lucas Oil Raceway and Kansas, it’s definitely more comfortable knowing that I have experience at those tracks. Salem and Kansas in particular, it definitely gives me confidence since I’ve won at both of them. Not only in knowing the track itself, but in knowing how those tracks race and kind of what to expect.”
Self who not only leads the overall series championship standings but also the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge has posted four wins to go along with 13 top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes in 17 overall season starts.
The final push for the series’ championship starts Saturday, September 14 at Salem Speedway. The 106th running of ARCA’s Fall Classic will air live on MAVTV starting at 8pm ET.