Michael Self continued his streak of strong runs in the ARCA Racing Series on Friday night, just barely missing out on victory, driving the No. 28 Sinclair Oil Chevy to second-place at Lucas Oil Raceway Park, and career-best finish in the ARS.

Self re-joined MDM Motorsports for this event, his first with the team since the season opener at Daytona International Raceway. The day started quick and smooth for Self, as he took Dino and the No. 28 to the top of the speed charts early in practice, ultimately finishing the lone hour and 45 minute session in the fifth position. Self, along with crew chief Mardy Lindley focused on making their car loose throughout the practice session, which sounds counter-intuitive, but the duo was set on preparing for the cooler temperatures of nighttime when the race would go green.

Post-practice, Self felt strong about their chances. “We had the car really good to start out with, but we didn’t necessarily want it that way. We wanted to be loose. I’ve never raced here, but Mardy and the guys have been here a ton, and they all say the car needs to be free during the day because it tightens up at night, so that’s what we’re betting on. We finished practice loose overall, but still had good long-run speed, so that’s encouraging.”

The loose characteristics of the No. 28 were definitely on display during qualifying, as Self ran a time fast enough for just ninth position.

The race started just after 9:00PM ET, but the outside temperature had barely cooled, as it was still above 90-degrees at the drop of the green flag. Self settled in from the start, playing the strategy of maintaining for a long race. Methodically, Self was able to pick up spots and drive in to the top-five by the lap 30 mark, a position he would hold until the first round of pit-stops. A slow stop saw Self fall back to the ninth position, from where he would work his way back in to the top-six by the halfway mark. The heat of the night proved to be the biggest challenge facing Self and the 28 team, as Self fought a “wrecking loose” car throughout the entirety of the first half. When the caution flew at lap 130 of 200, crew chief Lindley knew a big swing had to be taken. Self brought in the No. 28 Sinclair Chevy for four tires and an adjustment in attempt to tighten up the racecar. Self would restart in the ninth position, with multiple cars in front of him on old tires. Self used his new tires to his full advantage, passing rows of cars three-wide at times, and assuming the second position by lap 150. Self then engaged in a multi-lap side-by-side battle with MDM teammate Sheldon Creed, with Self being able to clear for the top spot on lap 163. From that point on, it looked like Self was going to be in charge, pulling ahead of second place by more than one-and-a-half seconds with just 30 laps to go, but mother nature wanted a say in the fight, as a small rainstorm came over the track bringing out the caution at lap 175. The quick shower wasn’t enough to soak the track, and with 14 laps to go, the race would go back to green for a shootout to the finish. Self took command on the ensuing restart, but with eight to go, Self fell victim to the 77 car who had saved their four new tires for a late-race caution and put them on during the rain-induced yellow. With 60 laps on his tires, Self wasn’t able to hang on to the top spot and crossed the finish line in second position.

“That’s a bit of a heartbreaker,” said Self. “I’m happy to finish second, and keep up the streak of top-fives I’ve had in ARCA, but we were so close to that win after fighting all night. I just want to get this Sinclair Oil Dino car in to victory lane. I guess the heat messed us up. These are probably the hottest conditions I’ve ever raced in. Even at night, it never cooled down, so the track just never tightened up. We were super loose from the drop of the green up until we made our four-tire stop, but Mardy made a call giving me exactly what I needed to balance the car out, and they gave me the best car when it mattered. We just needed a ton of rain to cancel the race, or no rain, because I don’t think anyone would’ve caught us.”