Michael Self celebrates with his crew after winning Friday’s race at MIS. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) dominated the first 90 laps of the ARCA Menards Series VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway, but needed a last lap pass to score his third series win of the season. Self snuck past Ty Majeski (No. 22 Crestliner Boats Ford), who was attempting to run the final 50 laps of the race on one tank of fuel, in turn three of the final lap.
Self led at will over the first 90 laps of the race, at times building a nine-second advantage over the field. He made his final pit stop of the night on lap 90, giving the lead to Majeski. With wins at Charlotte and Pocono, Majeski was looking for his third consecutive series victory and it looked like he had a chance to pull it off. But as he entered the final set of corners on the final lap his fuel tank ran dry and Self blew by to take the lead and the win.
“Any time you’re up against a driver like Ty and his team you know it’s going to be tough,” Self said. “When my spotter told me the 22 was going to try to stretch it, I knew they had a good chance of making it because they’re that good. They came on the radio and said he sputtered a little when he came across the stripe to take the white, but he was still under power off of turn two and it made my heart sink a little bit. But then we got to three and he had run out of fuel and I knew we had him. He did what he needed to do and tried to block me but there’s just too much room here and we were able to get by.”
Self credited his third win of the season to a call on pit road by crew chief Shannon Rursch.
“When we heard they were going to try to stretch it to the end, we knew we had to get off pit road really quickly,” Self said. “We didn’t take tires because we knew if we did it would take too much time. It turns out that we needed all the time we could just to get to him. If we took tires we wouldn’t have had the time to catch him on the last lap, even if he did run out of fuel. This win is all because of Shannon on the guys in the pits.”
Despite narrowly missing out on his third straight series victory, Majeski was upbeat with his runner-up finish.
“That was the only shot we had and we almost made it,” Majeski said. “We had a lot of issues today. First we had a plug wire come loose, and then the digital dash came unplugged. We didn’t know how much fuel pressure we had or what the RPM was so making a green flag stop would have been a disaster. Our only chance was the try to stretch it. We did everything we could. If I ran any harder, we would have run out sooner. If I saved any more he would have caught me and passed us. This is the first time I’ve ever been in the position to have to save fuel and I think I did a pretty good job the circumstances just didn’t work out in our favor today.”
Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet) finished third, Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Chevrolet) was fourth, and Tanner Gray (No. 54 Gray Motorsports/Valvoline/Durst, Inc. Toyota) rounded out the top five. For Holmes, it was his best finish of the season and for Graf it was his first top-five of the season.
“Shane Huffman and I have really hit it off this season,” Holmes said. “Last year at this time we were running tenth every week, this year we’re running up in the top five and fighting for wins. It’s only a matter of time until we get one.”
The race was slowed once by caution for an incident involving Brandon McReynolds. He made contact with the wall in turn three and coasted to a stop on the frontstretch on lap 48, right as many of the leaders were on pit road. Some, like Graf, were able to get off pit road without losing a lap, while others, like Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) weren’t able to get off pit road in time and were trapped a lap down. Braden would eventually go on to finish seventh.
Self and Majeski traded the lead four times on the afternoon, with Self leading 86 laps and Majeski leading the other 14. The lone caution was for seven laps, which allowed the race to be completed in a brisk one hour and 12 minutes at an average speed of 165.365 miles per hour.
Self unofficially leads the championship standings by 60 points over Holmes and 100 points over Braden in third.
The ARCA Menards Series returns to action Friday, June 14 in the Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway.