For ARCA Menards Series championship leader Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), it’s been a very interesting 2019 season to this point. It’s his first run at the series championship, and he’s had success to this point winning three races at Five Flags Speedway, Salem Speedway, and Michigan International Speedway. But there have been some challenges, too. Post-race rules infractions have cost Self and his team 75 points, which considering his narrow 30-point advantage over second-place Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet) could make a significant impact at the end of the season.
But for now, Self and his Venturini Motorsports team aren’t counting points. At least not yet. They’re still in race win mode, with the knowledge that winning races scores the maximum amount of points so it’s the proverbial two birds with one stone. But coming to Chicagoland Speedway for Thursday’s Bounty 150, the Venturini’s home track, performing well is all the more important. Even in the tightest of points battles, it wouldn’t matter. All that matters is running well in front of team owners Bill and Cathy Venturini’s hometown crowd.
Giving his team owners a solid performance is a priority, but the fact Chicagoland is his favorite track on the ARCA Menards Series schedule makes this an event he’s had circled all season long.
“Running well and getting the Venturini family a win here is definitely a big part of it, but it’s’ probably my favorite track on the schedule,” Self said. “Two years ago we had a dominant lead and a dominant night until we had a tire go down with two laps to go and we lost that one. We came back last year and put it all together and won the race. I love that track and I love the way it races. It’s a little more difficult as far as intermediate tracks go. It’s a little wore out, it’s a little bumpy and I like the attitude of it. If we could go back there and win it would be a big deal. It’s fun to go there and win for the Venturinis.”
With deep ties to the region, the Venturinis know all of the good area food hot spots but Self isn’t sure there’s enough time during his visit to make it them all.
“They definitely know the food around there,” he said. We do the fan rally in Joliet on Wednesday night so we don’t have a lot of extra time. If we were there an extra few days I would really like to spend some time with them there and have them show us all around and tell me all about their history there.”
Self is a noted big track expert. He likes the way tracks larger than one mile race, and he’s had a lot of his success in the ARCA Menards Series on tracks longer than a mile. Oddly enough, he believes drivers feel the speed more on short tracks than they do on the wide open tracks like Chicagoland Speedway.
“To me it feels like you’re cruising down the highway,” he said of the speeds at Chicagoland. “To me Madison feels a lot faster because everything is so fast and abrupt. At the mile and a half tracks, even though you are going a lot faster, you’re a lot more gradual with the things you’re doing in the car. You aren’t using a lot of steering input. You aren’t using a lot of brake. The track is so wide everything feels smoother until something goes wrong and then you really start to feel the speed.”
Practice at Chicagoland Speedway is set for 1 pm ET/12 noon CT, with General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 5:35 pm ET/4:35 pm CT. The Bounty 150 will take the green flag shortly after 8 pm ET/7 pm CT and will be televised live flag-to-flag on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New members can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. Discounted tickets are available at nearly 75 Chicagoland-area Menards locations for just $10. For more information, visit ChicagolandSpeedway.com.