KANSAS CITY, Kan. – official release – ARCA photo — It’s almost official; at least it is if you add up the points, which place Austin Wayne Self clearly atop the standings for the 2014 SCOTT Rookie of the Year award. In fact, from a points-perspective, he’s untouchable through the Kansas Speedway finale Friday night.
“This is a really cool thing,” Self said. “Our main goal this year was to be able to walk away with the SCOTT Rookie of the Year…so this is very big, a big step for me to be able to say, from here going forward, that I’m an ARCA Rookie of the Year. We set our goals and we got there. It’s a big deal for me, personally, but for any driver to be able to say this as you move up through the ranks, it’s only going to help your career. It’s a huge achievement. People see that.”
Self will officially receive the award at the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards year-end championship awards banquet on December 13 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Until then, to remain eligible, Self must adhere to a specific “code of ethics” established over the years from ARCA’s top brass… to continue to “set a positive example of demeanor, conduct and character that best represents the series”.
“I’m not going to mess that up; I plan to be up there on stage at the banquet to get this award. We worked too hard for this,” added Self, who drives for Cunningham Motorsports.
Self’s SCOTT Rookie honor marks the fourth time in the last six years a driver from the Cunningham Motorsports team has earned the Rookie of the Year award – the others being Parker Kligerman (2009), Dakoda Armstrong (2010) and Alex Bowman (2012).
Self, in Cunningham’s No. 22 AM Technical Solutions Dodge, is currently sixth in overall championship standings with just one race remaining in 2014 – the ARCA 98.9 at Kansas. He trails Justin Boston by 175 points.
“It’s been a big learning curve for me this year, with all the big tracks, but I learned a lot.”
Self finished second on two occasions this year at Lucas Oil Raceway and Berlin Raceway. In regards to the ‘big tracks’ that he referred to, his best superspeedway finish (third) came on the circuit’s biggest track – the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway back in early May, his first speedway start. Self helped push his teammate Tom Hessert to Victory Lane.
“That race (Talladega) is going to stick in my mind forever, and that’s okay with me.
“Just running a full season was a big learning curve too. It’s been a while since I raced in a full season in anything. I could pick any track on the schedule and tell you something that I learned on that track. I made some mistakes, but I learned from them. With a full season under me now, I’ve just got that much more experience going into next year.”
The race at Kansas will be yet another new adventure for Self, who tested there in early September, but has yet to turn a lap in competition at the 1.5-mile track.
“Kansas is a pretty cool place. The first thing that stands out to you at Kansas is how smooth it is compared to some of the other intermediate tracks we race on. When you get into the corner on these intermediate tracks, they may look the same but they sure don’t drive the same.
“I’m ready to get out there (at Kansas) and attack this track. It’s the last race of the year for us to get a shot at a win, and my last chance to get a Rookie hat. Next year, if we don’t win, there’ll be no Rookie hat, and we’ll just be the first loser. We’re coming to win at Kansas. No reason to leave anything on the table at this point.”