Entering the ARCA Menards Series season finale at Kansas Speedway, Michael Self was in a similar situation as 2019: He entered with a shot to win the championship.
This year, though, Self entered the Speediatrics 150 eight points behind Bret Holmes in the championship standings with a realistic shot of hoisting the season-long trophy.
When the Speediatrics 150 began, Self’s No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota experienced fuel issues early on. He lost a lap but received the lucky dog when the first competition caution occurred. Self stayed on the lead lap for the rest of the race but ultimately finished fifth.
As a result, he finished runner-up in the championship standings, 12 points shy of the title.
“It’s a representation of how our year went,” Self said in a post-race Zoom call with media members. “We struggled really bad. We were really off in practice. When it started, I lost a lot of track position. We were really loose.
“We had some sort of fuel pickup problems, and it cut off shutting off the car. It derailed our first run. We went a lap down but we got that back. The second run was OK, and the third run it happened again. I’m unsure why. We weren’t good enough. You can’t run fifth [to] eighth and win the championship. Unfortunately, we did that a lot this year.”
"It's okay. Life goes on. It's disappointing.
"But my hat's off to Brett, Shane and those guys. They did a really, really good job this year."
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) October 17, 2020
Self won the ARCA race at Kansas in 2017, and the 1.5-mile track in Kansas City, KS has sentimental value to him.
“It started four years ago here with Sinclair [Oil, his sponsor],” he said, reflecting on his ARCA career. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished here. I’ve won on every track the series has gone to. Whatever the future holds, it’s been a cool experience and something I’ve really been proud to be a part of.”
So, what are his plans for next year?
“Maybe it’s time for me to try a little bit of a different avenue.”
Self finished second in the ARCA championship standings for the second straight year. And overall, it was a year of what ifs and missed opportunities. He only won two races, down from four a season ago.
“There’s a lot of stuff from this season I’d like to forget,” Self said. “This has been a tough year. We got put into a difficult situation with no practice sessions and the elimination of testing. There were a lot of rule changes to a system we didn’t have notes on. If we didn’t show up with a good car at the beginning of the race, it was really hard to recover from that. Without practice or qualifying, it makes things really difficult if you’re off.
“My personal belief is everyone deserves a little bit of practice to work on things. You have to be perfect – there’s no room for error.”
Only 18 drivers competed in the Speediatrics 150. Holmes won the ARCA race at Kansas earlier this year and entered as the series points leader. Moreover, only seven drivers finished on the lead lap.
After winning 14 races in 2019, Venturini Motorsports won six races this year, including the season finale with Heim driving the No. 10 Toyota, fielded by Venturini Motorsports but entered by Fast Track Racing.
“At Daytona and Talladega, not much changed in the rules,” Self said, openly acknowledging the long-windedness of his answer. […] “Venturini has been a powerhouse at those tracks over the last couple of years. We capitalized on good runs there.
“The Daytona [International Speedway] road course was wet, and I have far more experience there than anyone else. At Phoenix [Raceway], we had a good run. We were off in practice but made changes to improve. Not having practice became really difficult for us.
“We were down about 150 horsepower compared to last year. It’s massively different. The skew in the rear end is different. When we’re going off our notebook from last year, it’s not working. We’re then behind, trying to catch up during the race. With five minute breaks, you can’t change much.”
Self will turn 30 years old on November 1. He has a few different options for his future.
Michael Self's future is up in the air at this time, but hasn't fully ruled out driving in 2021 because he still enjoys it. At the same time, he may shift into a managerial/coaching role, putting his education in use. #ARCA
— Luis Torres (@TheLTFiles) October 16, 2020
In 59 career ARCA starts, Self has nine victories, with 37 top-five and 45 top-10 efforts.