Joliet, Illinois (June 29, 2018) – After cutting a right-front tire in the waning laps with a commanding lead in last season’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards SCOTT 150 at Chicagoland Speedway, Michael Self headed back to the Windy City on Thursday seeking redemption. Mission accomplished for the 27-year-old Self as he parked the No. 15 Sinclair Oil Toyota in victory lane for the third victory of his ARCA career in just his 15th start.
Self paced the lone practice session on Thursday afternoon and qualified third in General Tire pole qualifying. At the drop of the green flag, the Park City, Utah native took it three-wide to take the lead and was the dominant car in the first half of the 100-lap event. Self would lead by nearly three seconds at the halfway mark, but yielded the lead at Lap 68 to Todd Gilliland as he fought a tight-handling race car. While it looked like Self would have to settle for second-place as he trailed Gilliland by more than four seconds in the waning laps, a caution with six laps remaining set up a frantic green-white-checkered finish.
Crew chief Kevin Reed would call for four fresh General Tires on the team’s No.15 Toyota and that would prove to be the winning call. Riley Herbst stayed out on the race track and Todd Gilliland took two fresh tires, setting Self up in the third position for the final restart. The fresh rubber vaulted Self to the point and he drove away for the victory by 0.155 seconds after leading a race-high 63 laps.
“On the green-white-checkered restart, I would probably not put my money on anyone other than me,” Self said with a huge grin.
After Self’s cut-tire last season, Venturini Motorports teammate Christopher Bell ended the night in victory lane and Self has been haunted by that trophy ever since.
“Venturini Motorsports won the race last year after that and every time I walk into the shop Billy (Venturini) has that trophy sitting dead center in the middle of the table and it just wears me out every single time. To come back and to get it done tonight for Venturini Motorsports, obviously this place holds so much merit with them being from here.”
Leading up to the race, the attention was primarily on the VMS female trio of Natalie Decker, Leilani Münter and Toni Breidinger. Thursday’s race marked the first time in the modern era of stock car racing that one team had entered three female drivers in a single event.
Featuring females isn’t new for the team owned by Chicago native Bill Venturini. Big Bill won two ARCA driving championships in 1987 and 1991, the first coming with an all-female pit crew, led by his wife and team co-owner Cathy Venturini.
Decker celebrated her 21st birthday on Monday and was making her first start on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. The Eagle River, Wisconsin native finished 12th in the team’s flagship No. 25 N29 Capital Partners – Yamaha Toyota.
Breidinger, USAC’s (United States Auto Club) all-time winningest female driver with 14 pavement victories, was making just her third ARCA start after coming from the open-wheel racing world. The 18-year-old northern California native finished 18th in the No. 55 TORK Toyota.
Münter, with support from A Well-Fed World and TRYVEG.com, made her sixth start of the season behind the wheel of the No.20 VEGANSTRONG.COM Toyota and finished 20th. .
The hometown victory was the 48th for VMS in ARCA competition and the fourth at Chicagoland Speedway. Self’s win was also his second and VMS’ fourth of the series’ campaign. .
The next race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Fans with Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 7th. A 90-minute practice session will begin at 11:45 a.m. CT with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 3:45 p.m. CT. Race No. 12 of the 2018 season will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT with live television coverage on MAVTV.