DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Michael Self never led a lap in regulation of Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire, but he was out front when it mattered most at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Self snuck through a multi-car pileup that collected the top four during the first attempt at one-lap overtime on Saturday night in the ARCA Racing Series season-opener, then drove away from a battered and decimated field to notch his second-straight series win and first at Daytona after a three-hour marathon punctuated by two final-lap crashes.
The first incident was set up after a restart with four laps to go, with the field completing three of those revolutions uninterrupted before contact between Gus Dean and Bret Holmes going down the backstretch tipped Holmes into the outside wall and sparked a vicious wreck that collected Bo Lemastus, Mark Thompson and Zane Smith — as well as left Holmes skidding down the straightaway on his side before coming to rest there.
At that point, Sheldon Creed was the race leader ahead of Sean Corr at the front of the field.
A lengthy red flag period for cleanup ensued, and when the caution was re-displayed, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Noah Gragson ran out of fuel from third and set up Creed and Corr on the front row for the first race-defining one lap dash.
Creed and Corr remained locked together with shoves from Chase Purdy and Travis Braden for nearly the duration of the lap, but Creed got sideways entering turn three after Purdy bumped both he and Corr, sending the top four crashing through the corner and setting up another attempt at overtime with Self as the leader after he scooted through the melee.
Once he got through, it was smooth sailing, as Self drove away cleanly to a convincing half-second victory over Willie Mullins during the final 2.5-mile haul.
The win was the second of Self’s ARCA career, following his triumph in the season finale at Kansas Speedway last fall.
“We survived,” said Self in victory lane. “We just survived. I got lucky, made it through a couple of wrecks and took this No. 15 Sinclair Oil Toyota to the win after overcoming a lot. This thing was rough and beat up, but Kevin [Reed, crew chief], Billy [Venturini] and these guys gave me a great car. [Spotter] Mike Herman Jr. just guided me through there. They all told me every single thing I needed to do.”
“I made mistakes and they helped me overcome them all day. Now we’re here. That’s what it’s all about.”
Mullins’ runner-up effort marked his career-best finish in ARCA competition. He was followed to the finish line by Creed, who rallied back to third after a flat tire sent him to pit road just before the final restart.
Self’s Venturini Motorsports teammates Tom Hessert III and Natalie Decker completed the top five.
Sports car regular Max Tullman finished sixth in his series debut, ahead of Gragson, Leilani Munter, Andrew Belmont and Riley Herbst.
This story will be updated (results follow on next page)…