The ARCA Menards Series’ 20 races are held at 18 different race tracks, and with tracks ranging from 2.66 miles to 0.375 miles and two one-mile dirt tracks thrown in for good measure, it’s one of the most diverse schedules in all of motorsports.
In recent years, the series has scheduled about half of its races on short tracks and half of its races on superspeedways, defined as tracks longer than one mile in length.
When the series moves to the big tracks, where high speeds need plenty of horsepower, mechanical grip, and a knowledge of aerodynamics not to mention some real bravado from the driver, Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) is always one of the favorites to win.
Despite a solid short track background in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, and a pair of ARCA Menards Series wins on short tracks to start 2019, Self enjoys the style of racing the superspeedways produce.
Self, the current ARCA Menards Series championship points leader, will make his second career appearance at Michigan International Speedway on Friday June 7 in the Michigan ARCA 200. He finished third in 2018 after leading 23 laps, something he’d like to improve upon this season.
“After the last few weeks, I think I’m just really hoping for a completely smooth day at Michigan from the first lap of practice to the checkered flag at the end of the race.” Self says. “We’ve been off-kilter a bit, between mistakes by me and mechanical issues, I just want to focus on getting that cleared up. Once we do, we’ll be rock solid. The Venturini Motorsports guys bring the fastest cars to the racetrack every weekend, but we’ve beat ourselves the last two races, on track where I feel like we should’ve excelled. I really like Michigan and think it’s a ton of fun to race there, and hope this is the place we can piece everything back together and have a shot at another win.”
While he does excel at all of the big tracks on the schedule, all of them have different characteristics and all of them race very differently. Michigan is known for its long straightaways and wide sweeping corners that allow for three- and four-abreast racing, particularly on starts and restarts. It’s a challenge Self is looking forward to taking on.
“The track is just massive. Last year it kind of threw me off at first, but once I figured it out I really enjoyed how big and flowing it is, but how it races like a 1.5-mile track. We were fortunate to have a really good car last year and lead laps until a mechanical issue came about a little before halfway, so hopefully we can avoid that this year and I can learn more about the track without fighting that, and pick back up where I was comfortable.”
In 2018, Sheldon Creed earned his first career series win at Michigan and it launched him towards the series championship. Self already has a pair of wins under his belt so far in 2019 but would welcome a win at Michigan to bolster his points lead. He has a 30-point lead over second-place Bret Holmes. But just because he acknowledges he has the points lead doesn’t mean he’s counting those points just yet.
“I’ve put the points in the back of my head for now. We’ve had too much stress internally to add that to the mix. Like I said, if we can fix some of the mistakes we’ve made as a team the last few weeks, we’ll be in solid championship form, but we have to fix those things and go win some more races first.”
Practice for the VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway is slated for 8 am ET on Friday, June 7, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12 noon, with the 100-lap, 200-mile race slated to go green shortly after 6 pm ET. The race will be televised live on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat for all on-track sessions at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. For ticket information log on to MISpeedway.com or call 888-905-7223.