Photo credit: Barry Cantrell

On Friday night at Kansas Speedway, Michael Self crossed another item off his 2017 bucket list when he drove the No. 28 Sinclair Oil Chevrolet to his first career ARCA win in his ninth career start. The victory was Self’s third in a row on the season in which he’s bounced between the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

Though the event was held over a two-day period, the ARCA cars were only on track on Friday starting with a two-hour practice session in which Self was consistently scored in the top-five, and finished the session in the second position. Though the result was good on paper, the session was not without hassle and stress from the No. 28 Sinclair Oil team.

“Man, we really just struggled all practice,” said Self. “Our balance was way off. We had decent speed at times and were able to put up good numbers to sit high on the charts, but I’m worried about the balance of the car. We started off loose, then felt like we got close, then went to plowing tight. We killed the right front tire. Then we put new tires on and went back to loose. It was weird. I just wasn’t ever able to get comfortable.”

Qualifying saw Self nearly match his practice time of 30.531 seconds around the 1.5-mile speedway, but that was only good enough for an eighth-place starting position. Self would take the green flag from the outside of row number four for the 100-lap event.

The drop of the green saw Self make quick progress as he was able to exit turn two in the fifth position, but his momentum would stall as he began fighting a tight condition once again in the early laps. When the first caution flag fell the No. 28 team elected to pit and make adjustments to the Sinclair Oil Chevrolet in attempt to free the car up. The changes were a positive gain, as Self was able to move up from a restart position of 14th in to the top-ten just before the next caution, but the team still needed more. The next caution flew just after the halfway mark and the Sinclair team stopped for more adjustments and fresh General Tires. With the adjustments proving to have been in the right direction, Self was able to use the high-line of the racetrack to drive up to the sixth position before the next, and final caution with just under 15 laps to go. Self pitted once again for his last set of tires and a small change called for by crew chief Mardy Lindley and re-joined the field right back in the sixth position. The final restart was without a doubt one of the most chaotic the racing scene has seen this season, as the front of the field was momentarily five-wide just after the start/finish line. Self was the man in charge on the restart as he took advantage of the shuffling around in front of him to sneak his way through the middle of the front two rows and become the meat in the sandwich of a three-wide situation entering turn one. Without hesitation, Self committed to his run and exited turn two in the lead with just nine laps to go, but it wasn’t easy sailing from there. Self held off a strong charge from late model star and Roush-Fenway development driver Ty Majeski over the last nine laps, ultimately taking the checkered flag less than a second in front of the 99 car.

“That last restart… those last nine laps, it was all just crazy,” said Self as he exited the car in victory lane. “We fought so hard all race, and just kept working on getting the car better. The first half of the race I was just worried about not going a lap down, I wasn’t even thinking about driving up here and winning, but that’s why you never give up, especially with Mardy and these MDM Motorsports guys working on the car. We’ve been so close so many times this year in the ARCA series in the Sinclair car, we just always had bad luck take it away. It feels amazing to finish off the ARCA season with this win and to get a third win in a row.”