Concord, North Carolina (April 15, 2019) – Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) claimed his second consecutive ARCA Menards Series victory in Sunday afternoon’s rain-shortened Kentuckian Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway.
Qualifying fourth, Self quickly chased down the leaders taking the top spot away from pole sitter Carson Hocevar on lap-27. From that point Self set sail leaving his competition in his wake until the skies opened up with heavy rain at lap 98. Circling under caution the red flag emerged from the flag stand stopping the race just after the halfway point of the race.
After evaluating track conditions and radar, series’ officials made the decision not to restart the race, sending Self back to Victory Lane for the fifth time of his ARCA career.
Self’s victory also extended VMS’s 2019 unbeaten streak giving the team its third consecutive victory to start off the young season. In the process, VMS earned their 55th series victory and ninth overall at Salem Speedway.
“I owe all of this to my Venturini Motorsports guys,” said Self. “We knew yesterday we were going to have a good racecar. We didn’t have a lot of qualifying speed but we knew once the race started, especially if it was cool and cloudy, that we’d be good.”
Self led handily over the rest of the field and with a long green flag run to open the race, he had lapped up to the third position. The first caution of the day waved at lap 89 when rookie driver Ty Gibbs spun in turn two. With potential weather off in the distance, there was a decision to be made whether or not to hit pit road.
“There was no way we weren’t coming at that point,” Self said. “We had lapped up to third so we knew even if no one else came we would be third at worst. Tires make such a big deal here that even if we had just a few laps under green we knew we’d get back to the front pretty quickly.”
Self’s Venturini Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) stayed out to take the lead under the caution, but pitted with one to go.
“We just did that to hedge our bets,” team owner Billy Venturini said. “We knew rain was coming and we didn’t want another team to steal the win by not pitting. We left Chandler out until we knew we’d go back racing and then once the one to go was given we brought him down. Michael and the 25 team had the car to beat today and as far as we’re concerned the race ended up the way it should have. It didn’t matter if we ran 300 laps today, no one was going to beat them.”
Chandler Smith would finish fourth giving the talented driver his eighth top-5 in just eleven series starts.
Harrison Burton, called on just hours before the race to replace championship contender Christian Eckes (No.15 JBL Audio Toyota) after he was unexpectedly sidelined due to medical reasons, finished eighth in his relief effort. The team expects to provide an update on Eckes’ condition early in the week.
Next up for the ARCA Series is the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, April 26.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS
With 54 all-time victories, Venturini Motorsports, an official Toyota Racing Development team, has been a permanent fixture in the ARCA Menards Series since 1983 and is considered one of the early pioneers in NASCAR driver development programs.
Since Joey Logano, last year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion, raced for the team in 2007, VMS has gone onto assist many of the sports’ top driver prospects in pursuit of making it to the highest levels of stock car racing.
The growing list of drivers racing today in one of NASCAR’s top-three touring series include current Toyota drivers Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Brandon Jones, Todd Gilliland, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed and Natalie Decker. VMS Alumni also include Joey Logano, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Matt Tifft, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Justin Haley.