By: Cole Cusumano
Photo By: ARCA Racing
AVONDALE, Ariz. — After a colossal second-career victory at Daytona International Speedway to open the ARCA Menards Series season, Michael Self brought dino-sized confidence to the Arizona desert and Phoenix Raceway.
“I have a lot of confidence, especially with my crew and the guys working on the Sinclair Toyota,” Self told POPULAR SPEED prior to the General Tire 150. “We’ve been really happy with Kevin Reed, my crew chief, so far this year. Obviously things went really smoothly in Daytona and I’ve had a lot of success with Kevin in the past, so that gives you confidence whenever you go to any of these places.”
Self was the second fastest in the sole practice session run today, with Ty Gibbs besting him by .441 seconds. He was able to back that speed up by qualifying in the runner-up position in his green and white Sinclair Toyota for the Tire General 150 at Phoenix Raceway.
The driver of the No. 25 was rock solid behind race-leader Ty Gibbs for almost the entire race, but electrical failures plagued him throughout the midway stages of the contest. For quite a few moments the team feared the worst, but Self was persistently able to overcome multiple scares and worked his way back up to the top-five after a plethora of cautions.
Able to capitalize with ease on restarts, Self found his Toyota in third on the final restart with two laps remaining and a genuine shot at victory. The 29-year-old came up just short, finishing .303 seconds behind teammate Chandler Smith.
Unlike most of the young 24 drivers in the field, this wasn’t the 29-year-old’s first go around at the one-mile track. Self won at the track known as the Diamond in the Desert almost eight years ago, and as a result expressed great joy in returning to a sight of such fond memories.
“This was always a favorite track of mine when I was racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series,” the Utah-native revealed. “This place was cool because; it was a companion weekend with the Cup cars, it was coming to a track that they race on, there was a little extra hype around it. Then when I won in 2012 – whenever you’ve won at a track, you get back and you feel like you have a little extra something special there – I definitely felt pretty good coming into here.”
Since capturing his 12th career victory in the West division of the K&N Series, Phoenix Raceway has evolved into a full reconfiguration in which the track underwent a full repave and moved the start/finish line to the dog leg in turns one and two.
“Seven years is a long time being away, I found that out early in practice,” Self said. “It was definitely a little bit of a learning curve getting back up to it, but I’m happy with where we ended up in practice and I’m happy to get the chance to make the Playoffs here – it’s a fun place.”
Although it was a fun day for Self and the Venturini Motorsports team, there will be no rest as the focus will now shift to the next event, with the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway on April 19.