Michael Self wins crash-filled ARCA season opener at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Michael Self survived two multi-car melees in the closing laps to win the crash-filled ARCA Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Self pulled away from the field on a third and final one-lap shootout. He stayed out front without any challenges and won the three-plus-hour race to kick off Speedweeks.
”Survive, man,” Self said. ”Just survived, got lucky, made it through a couple of wrecks. Just overcame a lot. This thing has been beat up.”
By the end, Self didn’t even have brakes as he coasted to a stop on pit road.
”It was a little scary,” he said.
Self was one of three Venturini Motorsports entries to finish in the top five. Teammates Tom Hessert and Natalie Decker, the 20-year-pole-sitter, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Willie Mullins was second, followed by Sheldon Creed.
Gus Dean started the first multi-car wreck in the final laps. Dean ran into the No. 23 car driven by Bret Holmes, turning it sideways and into traffic. The nose of Mark Thompson’s No. 66 got under Holmes’ car and flipped it onto its side. Holmes slid at least a hundred yards on the side of his car, with the driver’s side door scraping the asphalt.
Safety workers turned the car back onto all four tires, and Holmes climbed out and headed to the infield care center. He was checked and released along with everyone else involved in the wreck.
Creed was leading and appeared on his way to the victory when more chaos started.
Creed led the field to the start-finish line for the second, one-lap shootout and was up front when the leaders started crashing. He flattened a tire in that one and had to pit before the final restart.
Creed and three others running up front – Sean Corr, Travis Braden and Thomas Praytor – all wrecked to set up the final, one-lap shootout that gave Self his second ARCA victory.
”We’re here to put a show on and want to race to the checkered flag,” said Mullins, who praised ARCA rules that don’t allow a race to finish under caution. ”If we put in on the trailer in a box, who cares?”
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