If Michael Self was looking to kick off the 2020 ARCA Menards Series season with a bang, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to start the year the way he did.
Self dominated the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire from Daytona in the No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota, winning the race and claiming most of ARCA’s special awards as he took home the first trophy of the year.
The Sinclair-backed Venturini bunch recorded their third straight win at Daytona and the second Daytona win in three years for Self.
After winning five poles last year, Self drew the first straw for the first group of the qualifying session and fittingly picked up the General Tire Pole Award. Self now has seven career General Tire Pole Awards and has won two races from the pole, the other coming at Michigan in 2019.
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Self led the opening 21 laps of the race and 61 of the 80 laps overall as he picked up the Valvoline Lap Leader Award. Self, second in the year-end lap leader standings a year ago, was one of four drivers to lead laps on the day.
Self’s win was a true team effort for the Venturini Motorsports crew. Crew chief Kevin Reed earned the Cometic Crew Chief of the Race honors for leading Self to the win from the pole. Reed was the crew chief for 2019 AMS champion Christian Eckes a year ago, though Reed and Self are far from strangers together. Reed was on top of the box when Self won at Daytona for the first time to open the 2018 season, and the pair have also won at Chicagoland together. No. 25 car owner Cathy Venturini has been staked out to an early lead in the prestigious General Tire Superspeedway Challenge standings thanks to Self’s victory.
The General Tire Superspeedway Challenge is one of the premiere awards for car owners in the ARCA Menards Series and consists of seven races at 1.5-mile+ tracks overall, with Daytona serving as the opening event. The General Tire Superspeedway Challenge will return at Talladega in April for the second round.
Self was one of 11 drivers to complete all 80 laps as attrition and accidents took their toll on the 33-car starting field. Self is top among those drivers on the S&S Volvo Laps Completed award leaderboard vying for the Long Haul Award, given to whoever completes the most laps during the entire season among participating drivers. Bret Holmes took home the award a year ago after completing all but nine laps during the 2019 season.
Holmes’ No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet led eight laps, including lap 40, making Holmes the first Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader of the season.
While the veteran Self led the way, the rookies had their fair share of representation with Hailie Deegan (No. 4 Monster Energy Ford) and Drew Dollar (No. 15 Lynx Capital Toyota) taking second and third place, respectively. As the highest finishing rookie, Deegan won the Bounty Rookie Challenge Rookie of the Race Award and gets an early jump in the Bounty Rookie Challenge standings. Deegan and Dollar intend to run the full ARCA Menards Series schedule in 2020, and they will likely continue to put on a show as they compete for both the overall series championship and the Bounty Rookie of the Year award.
Returning to the slate of ARCA Menards Series special awards for the 2020 season is the “Hard Charger” award sponsored by K&N Filters. The K&N Hard Charger award will go to the driver who improves the most positions from their starting spot in each race. Drivers taking a provisional to make the starting field are not eligible. At Daytona, Sean Corr earned the Hard Charger award for his drive to fourth place after qualifying back in 20th. It marks Corr’s best career finish in 51 ARCA Menards Series starts, topping his previous best of fifth, a finish he recorded twice at Daytona as well as once at Talladega.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series will mark a new chapter in the series’ lengthy history. The ARCA Menards Series will travel west to visit the Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway for the first time for the running of the Phoenix 150.
The race will also mark the first event in Sioux Chief Showdown, a 10-race championship that brings together drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West. The Phoenix 150 will go green at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, March 6, and will be broadcasted live on FS1.