SALEM, Ind. – Michael Self left the field in his dust on Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway, and then Mother Nature handed him his second ARCA Menards Series win of the year.
Self dominated the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at the high-banked, .555-mile oval, taking the top spot from polesitter Carson Hocevar on lap 27 and opening up as much as 14 seconds over the field during an 88-lap green flag run.
His dominance was only briefly interrupted by a spinning Ty Gibbs in turn two on the 89th revolution, at which point only four drivers – Self, Chandler Smith, Hocevar and Sam Mayer – remained on the lead lap.
Smith stayed out for a couple of laps under the yellow flag, but ducked to pit road just before green flag conditions resumed for the final time on lap 95, handing Self the lead for good.
A brief sprint at speed was squelched three laps prior to halfway, when raindrops began falling and ARCA officials were forced to display the caution flag.
What followed was a brief processional behind the pace car until lap 101 went up on the scoreboard, at which point the race could be – and ultimately was – declared official.
Self, Mayer, Hocevar, Smith and Corey Heim – who got the free pass under the final caution – were scored as the top-five finishers and were the only cars on the lead lap at the red and checkered flags.
For Self, Sunday’s rain-shortened event marked his fifth career ARCA victory, second of the season and second in a row on a short track.
While he wanted to see it run out to conclusion, Self was willing to take a win however he got it.
“I was just as happy to see it rain as I would have been to race it out,” said Self. “It was a good day for our No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota. Shannon (Rursch) got the balance so good on this thing … that it just never fell off. It was so much fun out there.
“I never had to push the car at all,” he added. “The first 15 laps, the car was a little bit unbalanced in turns three and four and I thought that was going to be something we’d have to deal with as the run went on, but it just never, ever fell off, which is so bizarre here. … Usually you lose drive or lose right-front turn, but the car just stayed so neutral.
“We just nailed it, and to have a car where you can run 40 or 50 percent pace and still be a couple tenths faster than everyone chasing you is a feeling to strive for. We had it today.”
After winning his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race a week earlier at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Mayer came close to his first ARCA victory, but had to settle for second.
“This was pretty crazy, after starting in the back – or mid-pack – like we did,” said Mayer. “I felt like we had a good car overall, I just wish we’d been able to go see what she had after that final restart. The rain eventually got us, but I wanted to try and get that win.
“We were pretty sporty today, but just couldn’t quite get it done.”
Christian Eckes – the ARCA Menards Series point leader entering the day on Sunday – fell ill prior to the race and was unable to drive, instead receiving treatment at a local hospital.
Harrison Burton drove Eckes’ No. 15 Toyota to an eighth-place finish, one lap down.
Michael Self, Sam Mayer, Carson Hocevar, Chandler Smith, Corey Heim, Ty Gibbs, Tanner Gray, Harrison Burton, Joe Graf Jr., Bret Holmes, Tommy Vigh Jr., Travis Braden, Darrell Basham, Tim Richmond, Alex Clubb, Morgen Baird, Mike Basham, Dick Doheny, Brad Smith.