PENSACOLA, Fla. – After a short night in the season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Michael Self rebounded to win Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway.
Self led 39 laps midway through the race and retook the lead from Kaden Honeycutt with 29 laps remaining to score his fourth series win and his first on a short track.
“This is a big deal for me,” Self said. “A short track in ARCA has eluded me. Even though I don’t think I am a great short track racer, I have had some success in the K&N Series on short tracks. For some reason is just hasn’t translated over here. Maybe this will kick start it.
“I had a lot of confidence in our car. The Venturini Motorsports team as a whole is really good. Whenever we go to one of these short tracks the rest of the year we should be in good shape. I wouldn’t want to be racing against them right now because I am not sure I would be able to beat them.”
Self finished ahead of Ty Gibbs, who finished second in his ARCA Menards Series debut. He passed Christian Eckes for second in the final turn of the final lap.
“I am really happy with finishing second in my first race, but I really think we had the car to beat,” Gibbs said. “I let the car roll off the jack a little on the last stop and it cost us a little time on pit road. I think that cost us the race, but we learned a lot and I am ready to get to the next race at Salem.”
Eckes held on for third, albeit with damage to the nose of his race car.
“It happened early in the race and I didn’t think it really effected the way the car ran then, but looking at it now I am not so sure,” Eckes said. “It would have been nice to hold Ty off for second but we’ll take third. I think we come out of here with the points lead so it’s a great night for the Venturini team.”
Chandler Smith led the first 38 laps after starting from the General Tire Pole. He crossed the line in fourth, just in front of Corey Heim, who finished fifth in his series debut.
Michael Self, Ty Gibbs, Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Corey Heim, Bret Holmes, Connor Okrzesik, Raphael Lessard, Kaden Honeycutt, Travis Braden, Joe Graf Jr., Tanner Gray, Tommy Vigh Jr., Tim Richmond, Sam Mayer, Brad Smith, Carson Hocevar, Matt Dooley, Dick Doheny, Mike Basham.