Michael Self Paces Special Awards - Again - At Michigan

Michael Self Paces Special Awards - Again - At Michigan

Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) is becoming a familiar face to see in first place at ARCA Menards Series races in 2019. Self won the General Tire Pole award and the Valvoline Lap Leader award at Michigan in the VizCom 200, the third time each that he has pulled in those special awards. It took a last-lap, last-turn pass for Self to win his third race of the season, though, but make no mistake – Self dominated yet another ARCA race and headlines this week’s selection of special awards.

Just a few weeks ago, Self said at Toledo that he was “not the greatest qualifier” following his surprising pole run in qualifying. After winning three General Tire Pole awards in the last four races, it seems clear that he can qualify quite well after all. Self is the only driver this year to have three General Tire Pole awards. His Venturini Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman Toyota) is the only other driver to have multiple pole awards with two.

Self led 86 laps on the way to his first superspeedway win of 2019, handily giving him the Valvoline Lap Leader award for the day. Self also earned the Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader award for the fourth time this season, the only driver to lead at halfway multiple times in 2019. The 86 laps led pushed Self to the top of the board in the Valvoline Lap Leader standings with 329 laps led, displacing teammate Chandler Smith’s 257 laps led. Third place belongs to Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota), who has led 129 laps this year.

While Self may have won the race at Michigan, Ty Majeski (No. 22 Crestliner Boats Ford) nearly stole the show with some fuel strategy late in the race. Crew chief Paul Andrews called for Majeski to stay out during the long green flag run at the end of the race, but their bid for three wins in a row ended when Majeski’s fuel tank ran dry in turn 4 on the final lap. Despite the gamble coming up just short, Andrews was named the Cometic Crew Chief of the Race on the strength of Majeski’s runner-up finish. Billy Venturini, crew chief of the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports Toyota, leads the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year standings with 61 points. Andrews is in second with 90 points. Kevin Reed, crew chief of the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota, currently rounds out the podium with 94 points.

Majeski’s outstanding run gave No. 22 car owner Chad Bryant a leg up in a couple of yearlong special awards chases. Bryant padded his lead in the R.E. Lightning Challenge standings, where he holds an 1840-1690 advantage over Stacy Holmes’ No. 23 car. Don Fike’s No. 27 car is in third with 1655 points. In the hunt for the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge crown, Bryant took the lead for the first time this season with 1930 points. Billy Venturini’s No. 20 car slipped to second with 1910 points. With four superspeedway races left to go, it seems almost certain that the battle between those two car owners will go down to the wire at the season finale at Kansas. Third place Don Fike is well over 200 points behind both Bryant and Venturini in the standings, a gap that seems insurmountable unless chaos erupts.

Michigan was the second leg of the CGS Imaging 4 Crown, a championship that test the mettle of ARCA drivers at each of the four track types currently on the schedule: superspeedway, intermediate, short track, and dirt. The superspeedway race was Talladega earlier in the year, an event won by Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Frontline Enterprises Toyota). Michigan served as the intermediate event, with Springfield and Salem yet to come as the dirt and short track events respectively. Gilliland did not compete at Michigan, allowing Majeski to take the lead with 430 points. However, Majeski is not expected to compete at either Springfield or Salem, leaving the 4 Crown championship race wide open. Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Ford) currently sits second with 395 points. Behind him, there is an astonishing three-way tie between Riley Herbst (No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota), Michael Self and Joe Graf Jr. (No. 77 Eat Sleep Race Ford) with 390 points.

There was a shakeup atop the Bounty Rookie Challenge standings following Michigan. Tanner Gray (No. 54 Valvoline/Durst Toyota) won the Bounty Rookie of the Race award for the first time, but he wasn’t the biggest rookie story. Christian Eckes finally erased the deficit he faced after missing the Salem race with an illness. Eckes now has 236 points, four more than second-place Tommy Vigh Jr. (No. 10 Extreme Kleaner Ford) with 232 points.

In the S&S Volvo Laps Completed standings, Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet) maintained his lead by being one of three cars on the lead lap at the end of the day at Michigan. Holmes has completed 1101 laps in 2019, giving the Alabama driver a sizable lead over second place Travis Braden with 1015 laps completed. Third place belongs to Joe Graf Jr. with 969 laps completed, while Tommy Vigh Jr. sits fourth with 879 laps completed.

The ARCA Menards Series is back in action on Friday at Madison International Speedway. Live television coverage will be brought to you by MAVTV starting at 9:00 PM Eastern on June 14. Live timing and scoring as well as live chat can be found on ARCAracing.com, free for all registered users. Be sure to tune in for the Shore Lunch 200, the next leg of the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge.