TOLEDO, Ohio – April showers bring May flowers.
April showers also brought Michael Self a victory lane celebration as he was the beneficiary of a cloudburst just one lap past halfway in the ARCA Menards Series annual April visit to Salem Speedway.
It was Self’s second win of the season, and his second career series short track victory, following a win in the season’s second race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The back-to-back wins put Self on a trajectory that landed him atop the series championship standings.
Although he holds a 70-point advantage over his Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes with three races to go, Self isn’t in the mood to talk about points. All he’s focused on is his next visit to victory lane.
It’s a place Self has gotten used to in 2019.
In addition to his wins at Five Flags and Salem, Self has also won at Michigan International Speedway and on the dirt at the Springfield Mile. He’ll be going for a season-high fifth win of the year and a season sweep in Saturday night’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic 200.
“I like going to Salem,” Self said. “Of all the short tracks we go to Salem is one of my favorites. I am looking forward to going back there. We had a great car in the spring. Even if it hadn’t rained, we were going to be hard to beat. Shannon (Rursch) and the team gave me a great car and Venturini Motorsports has had a lot of success there in the past. Between myself, Christian, and Chandler we’ve won the last three races there. I know they’re my teammates but those are the guys we’re going to be racing for the win.”
Self transitioned into the ARCA Menards Series after achieving success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Self won eight times on a variety of circuits, including road courses, one-mile tracks, and true short tracks. When he made the move into the ARCA Menards Series, Self found superspeedway racing to be his forte. He won the season finale at Kansas in 2017, and followed it with a win in the 2018 season opener at Daytona. His third win at Chicagoland last summer only fortified his reputation as the series’ best big track racer.
“I love the style of racing on the big tracks,” Self said. “I like the speed, I like the way you work the air. It really seems to fit my style the best and I have had a lot of success on the bigger tracks.”
But Self’s short track skills, honed back in his K&N Pro Series days, have come to the forefront this season. Not only does he lead the series’ overall standings, he’s also leading the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge standings with two races remaining. In nine short track races this season, Self has eight top five finishes and three wins. His average start is 4.6 and his average finish is 4.3.
His impressive runs on short tracks, combined with his continued strength on the superspeedways, has made him a championship contender. Despite leading the standings since the sixth race of the season at Toledo, the battle for the championship isn’t a topic he wants to talk about.
“I am superstitious about it,” he said. “It’s all people ask me. I want to focus on winning races and running the best we can every week. If we are in victory lane then we’ve done all we can do and the points situation will take care of itself.”