Michael Self entered the 10th race of the ARCA Menards Series season as the series points leader, despite a penalty following his victory at Michigan International Speedway. The 28-year-old driver had never competed at Madison International Speedway before, so the Shore Lunch 200 definitely was a learning experience for him.
Self learned how to drive at the half-mile short track quite well, as he ultimately finished in second position.
“I kind of started to figure this place [Madison International Speedway] out,” Self said after the race. “I started to drive it completely differently. I don’t know if it was cause I was frustrated, sort of given up. So I decided I wanted to try something completely different. I figured something out.”
As a result, Self drove his No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota to comparable lap times as race leader Chandler Smith.
Self led 19 laps, but the late-race cautions hurt him. He admitted “we didn’t have a lot of short run speed.” Even so, he wheeled his No. 25 car to a second-place finish, 1.422-seconds behind winner Smith.
Smith overtook the lead for the final time on lap 190, battling Self for it. When discussing the race-winning move by his teammate, Self noted, “I’d be a hypocrite if I said I never raced people like that in my life, because I have. But it’s frustrating when you’re the leader… if I was in his position I’d be celebrating right now. Frustrating, but we came home with a second-place finish.”
Self has nothing but respect for his Venturini Motorsports teammates Smith and Christian Eckes. When asked how he feels about racing against those two drivers, both whom are competing part-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series this season, Self laughed.
He remarked: “Look, I want to beat the kids who are racing trucks because I don’t have that opportunity. So I’m going to prove to everyone that I should have that opportunity at one point in my life.”
As his chuckle turned into serious contemplation, Self commented, “I’m excited to watch Chandler tomorrow.”
He is confident in the bright futures of both Smith and Eckes. Self pondered whether he can serve as a mentor to the young drivers as they move up the ladder in their respective careers. Venturini Motorsports acknowledged Self’s achievements. “Michael Self makes the whole Venturini Motorsports team better.”
Self has three victories this season. He referred to racing at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (formerly known as Gateway Motorsports Park) as “cool,” and then he is thrilled to go race at Chicagoland Speedway in two weeks. He said he loves racing at that track because it has “a lot of character as far as intermediates go.”
Though Self finished second in the Shore Lunch 200, he remains the driver to beat in the ARCA Menards Series this season.