On Saturday night, Michael Self accomplished the number one thing on his list of goals this year. He drove the Sinclair Oil Ford Fusion to victory lane, winning the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 in his first start at Meridian Speedway. The win marks the seventh of Self’s career in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, his first since 2014. It was also the first time Self has been to victory lane in the Sinclair Oil car, which was fitting as Self took the checkered flag in front of a sold out crowd, including more than 90 guests from Sinclair.

The day started with two 45-minute practice sessions in which Self and the No. 9 Sinclair Oil/Sunrise Ford team focused on consistency around the .25-mile bullring. Self ultimately ended the practices fourth and third, respectively.

Qualifying was the lowest point of the day for Self, as he posted an attempt only good enough for a sixth-place starting spot.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming in to this race,” said Self. “I’d never been to Meridian, and the only other track we race at that’s similar is Orange Show, but we were solid there earlier this year so that gave me some confidence. We focused on race runs and consistency throughout practice, and ultimately ended really happy with our balance.”

At the drop of the green flag, Self showed no hesitation in his attempt to get to the front. By the lap 20 point, Self had moved inside the top-five and was running in the fourth position, but a flurry of caution flags and restarts would see that jostle around over the next 50 laps. Self bounced between the third and fourth position on the restarts, and settle back in to the fourth position just before the halfway point at lap 100. Over the next 100 laps and another restart, Self dropped back to the fifth position, where with just five laps to go, Self believed he was going to finish. With just two to go, on lap 206, the caution flew again, bringing the field together for a green-white-checkered finish. Coming through turns 3 & 4 after the restart Self made a brilliant move to the apron of the track as the cars in 2nd through 4th got tangled together, passing all three and crossing the finish line in the second position. But at the line, NASCAR officials declared that the final restart was under review, as it appeared the second-place car (and eventual winner) had jumped the start. After a lengthy period of waiting and review, the call was confirmed, and the winner was regulated to a seventh-place finish, giving Self the top-spot.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Self exclaimed in victory lane. “I had kind of just accepted that I was probably going to finish fifth, then when the caution came out, I was just focused on not getting caught up in any melee. We were all side-by-side on the restart and the guy in front of me pushed up the track getting in to turn 3, and sort of took second and fourth along with him, opening the door for me to get to second which I was going to be ecstatic with. That would’ve been my best K&N finish this year, but then my spotter came over the radio and told me to park on the front stretch and wait in the car because the restart was under review and there’s a chance we could win. I felt like I was sitting there forever, and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing when he said it had been confirmed and we’d won. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited inside a race car. The guys on the No. 9 car from Sunrise Ford Racing have worked so hard this year, and continued to believe in me even when we’ve struggled, and their continued belief and hard work makes this so rewarding. Also, to get my first win in the Sinclair car, with so many of their guests at the race was just an unbelievable feeling. I’ve never felt so proud. It’s been a ton of work getting to that point over the last few years, and that definitely tops the list of my proudest moments in racing. I’m excited to finish out the K&N season with the Sunrise Ford guys, and looking forward to being in the Sinclair car one more time at Kansas for the ARCA race in a few weeks.”

Photo credit: Otto Kitsinger/NASCAR via Getty Images