Category: 2019 News

Michael Self Wins Thriller at Michigan

Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil 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, who started from the pole position, 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.”

VMS Teammates, Christian Eckes (No.15 JBL Audio Toyota) and Myatt Snider (No.20 Cometic Toyota) finished seventh and eighth respectively.

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. Practice is scheduled for 2 pm ET/1 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 6 pm ET/5 pm CT and the green flag on the tenth race of the 2019 season will fly shortly after 9 pm ET/8 pm CT.

Chandler Smith Dominates Rain Shortened Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway

Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) won the rain shortened ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway, leading 140 of the race’s 152 laps.

Rain threatened throughout the day, but the race started on time. Smith started second, alongside Venturini Motorsports teammate Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), who earned the General Tire Pole Award in qualifying on Saturday. Self would lead the first ten laps but faced pressure from Smith the entire time. Eventually, Smith would dip to the inside and work his way by and drove off to a full straightaway advantage over the battle for second. Smith could see the rain was coming as the race ran to its ultimate conclusion, and even hoped it would come sooner than later.

“Whenever you’re the leader and you can see rain coming and the race is past halfway you want it to hurry up and get there,” Smith said. “I knew as soon as it started raining it wasn’t going to stop so we needed to get out front and stay out front. That’s what we did. These Venturini Motorsports guys do a great job giving me racecars that can dominate these races. I drive them the same way I drive my late model cars and that’s where we were able to beat them all today. We had more drive off the corners and that’s what it took.”

Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) finished second, his third runner-up finish in four career ARCA Menards Series races.

“I don’t know what the record is for most second-place finishes before someone gets their first win,” Gibbs asked, “but I think we’re in the hunt for it. We’re getting a little tired of finishing second at this point. We just ran out of time before the rain came. I think we needed another ten laps and we could have had something for them at the end.”

Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) finished third, Self was fourth, and Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) was fifth.

The race was slowed a total of four times by caution flags, two for incidents and two for rain, one of which ultimately ended the race. The first incident happened on lap 30 involving Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford) and Hailie Deegan (No. 55 Toyota Racing Development 40thAnniversary Toyota), both of whom made heavy contact with the foam blocks lining the outside wall in turn three. Graf would finish 17th and Deegan with finish 18th, and last, in her series debut. The second incident of the day involved the championship leader going into the race Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford), who hit the blocks in turn one on lap 79.

Braden would finish 13th, falling back to second in the standings 25 points behind Self. There were two leaders on the day, Self from the pole and Smith, who led from lap 13 through the checkered at lap 152.

The race was slowed four times for 23 laps and was ultimately shortened by 48 laps due to rain. Along with the race at Salem Speedway, it’s the second time in six races in 2019 that a race has been shortened by rain. The race took 59 minutes and 22 seconds and was completed at an average speed of 76.811 miles per hour.

The next event on the ARCA Menards Series schedule is the General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway coming up on Thursday, May 23. Practice is set for 11:30 am ET, General Tire Pole Qualifying will follow at 5 pm ET, and the race will go green at 9 pm ET live on FS1.

Christian Eckes Raises Guitar After Dominating ARCA Performance at Nashville

Concord, North Carolina (May 6, 2019) – Venturini Motorsports’ (VMS) Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) rebounded from two consecutive weeks of anguish to win Sunday’s rain-delayed ARCA Menards Series General Tire Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.

Eckes, making a statement with his performance, took the lead on a restart at lap 81 and led the final 120 laps to earn his first series victory of the season and the fourth of his career.

Eckes led the ARCA Menards Series standings entering the third event of the season at Salem Speedway but was forced to the sidelines with food poisoning on race day. After missing that race, Eckes returned to action at Talladega Superspeedway but was swept into a crash at the race’s midway point and he finished last in the 26-car field.

Determined to overcome recent adversity and put himself back into the championship hunt, Eckes was visibly relieved after climbing out of his JBL Audio Camry and hoisting Nashville’s coveted guitar in victory lane.

“It’s been a really rough couple of weeks,” Eckes said. “That was about the longest 80 laps of my life. We pitted early and I figured there would be a caution and there would be one guy with four tires in the pits. But that never happened. We still need to be a little better but we took some strides in the right direction for when we go to Toledo for our next short track race.

“I had a feeling in my stomach that we had a car that could win. I knew it was going to be a good day. We weren’t really happy with it yesterday. We were okay with it. We got it closer but it wasn’t where we wanted it completely. We got it close enough but we have room to get better.”

Extending VMS’ early hot streak, Eckes’ win at Nashville gives the team its fourth ARCA victory of the season in five attempts. Eckes becomes the third team driver to win in 2019 – joining Daytona winner, Harrison Burton and two-time winner, Michael Self (Pensacola and Salem), who both come out of VMS’ potent driver stable.

On Sunday, Eckes was forced to battle for the lead against teammate and pole sitter, Chandler Smith (No.20 Craftsman Toyota), who led the first 80-laps before finishing third overall. Smith was fastest in practice and started from the pole when qualifying was washed out by rain.

Despite his own disappointment, Smith dazzled again earning his second General Tire pole award of the season and his sixth pole in just 12 series starts. Smith’s pole award also represents VMS’ fourth on the season. Now with nine career top-5’s, the Georgia teen betters his series stats with an average ARCA starting position of 3.2 and an average finish of 4.2.

“He just had better turn ability than I did,” Smith said. “We overloaded the right front tire today. They rolled the center better than we did and that’s where they got us. We learned some things today that should help us at Toledo.”

Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota), who came into Nashville as the series point leader, finished a disappointing 15th and dropped to second in the standings after getting caught up in an on-track incident between the No.18 and No.10 cars happening outside his windshield. Suffering significant damage to the front end of his Sinclair Oil Toyota, Self was forced to retire early after completing 73 of the 200 race laps.

The ARCA Menards Series returns to action Sunday, May 19 in the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway. The race will be televised live on MAVTV starting at 2 pm ET.

Michael Self Wins at Pensacola

Michael Self Wins Pensacola 200 Handing Venturini Motorsports Second Consecutive ARCA Victory to Start Season; VMS driver trio of Self, Eckes and Smith claim three of top four finishing spots at Five Flags Speedway.

Pensacola, Florida (March 10, 2019) – Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) held off a late race charge from teammates Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith to pick up his fourth career ARCA Menards Series victory in Saturday night’s Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway.

Self’s victory marks the team’s second victory of the season and its 54th all-time in ARCA competition. VMS’ Harrison Burton drove to victory lane last month in the series’ season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Self, 27, started Saturday night’s race from the second spot after being nipped by Chandler Smith (No.20 Craftsman Toyota) for the General Tire Pole Award in qualifying by just two one-thousandths of a second. The Utah native led 68-laps before going on to earn his first career ARCA short track race.

“This is a big deal for me,” Self said. “A short track win in ARCA has eluded me. Even though I don’t think I am a great short track racer, I have had some success in the K&N Series on short tracks. For some reason is just hasn’t translated over here. Maybe this will kick start it.
“I had a lot of confidence in our car. The Venturini Motorsports team as a whole is really good. Whenever we go to one of these short tracks the rest of the year we should be in good shape. I wouldn’t want to be racing against them right now because I am not sure I would be able to beat them.”

Christian Eckes (No.15 JBL Audio) received a huge ovation from the near capacity crowd during his first return to Pensacola since winning the 2016 Snowball Derby. Eckes, 18, struggled early going a lap down at one point before mounting a late race charge enroute to posting a third-place finish.

“It wasn’t an easy night but in the end we came out with a solid finish,” said Eckes. It would have been nice to hold Ty (Gibbs) off for second but we’ll take third. I think we come out of here with the points lead so it’s a great night for the Venturini team.”

Eckes who started on the Pole and finished fourth in the season opener leaves Pensacola atop the ARCA Menards Series championship standings with 435 points. Travis Braden, who finished tenth, sits second with 370 points.

Sixteen-year old short track specialist Chandler Smith (No.20 Craftsman / 828 Logistics Toyota) wowed onlookers early earning his fifth career ARCA General Tire Pole Award in just his 10th series start. Smith led 38 laps after starting from the pole and finished fourth behind teammate Eckes.

The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway on April 14. The race will be televised live on MAVTV starting at 2 pm Eastern.

Harrison Burton Wins ARCA Opener at Daytona

Harrison Burton Wins Daytona Delivering Venturini Motorsports Back-to-Back Victories at the World Center of Racing

Daytona Beach, Florida (February 10, 2019) – Harrison Burton (No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota) drove to victory in Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway. Burton’s victory, the third of his ARCA career, also delivered Venturini Motorsports (VMS) its second consecutive win and third in the last six years at the World Center of Racing.

Burton, 18, who led a race high 48 laps held off Todd Gilliland on a one-lap overtime dash to the checkered.
“It means so much to come here and win at a track my dad won at before me,” Burton said. “I can’t thank my guys at Venturini Motorsports enough, they busted their butts on this car for the last month to get it so we can come here and compete to win.

“We had some debris on the grille over the last run and I think it actually helped. The temperatures went up but they weren’t too high. I got the jump on the restart and I knew Todd was on a run. We were up high next to the wall and I looked up and saw no one had a run. I knew that any time something bad could happen, and I was just waiting for it. It never did and then when I crossed the line I started screaming my head off.”

Burton’s VMS teammate, Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota), the General Tire Pole Award winner, lined up second on the final restart and ended up fourth. Eckes led 9 laps on the night from the pole.

“I thought we had a little bit better car than Harrison did but that’s speedway racing,” Eckes said. “We just weren’t in the right line on the restart. As far as the points are concerned it was a good day. It would have been good to win here but we’re happy to get a good start on the championship.”

Making the final start of her racing career, Leilani Münter (No.55 What the Health Toyota), started a career best third before finishing in the 15th position. Racing mostly inside the top-10 Leilani was racing in the sixth spot with 15 laps to go but was forced down into the grass trying to avoid a crash outside her windshield.

There were five cautions overall which consumed 30 laps, the final one of which sent the race into overtime. The first accident of the night happened on lap 3 and involved VMS’ defending race winner Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) and last year’s runner-up finisher Willie Mullins.

Mullins, who was lined up behind the No.25 Sinclair Oil machine racing down the backstretch showed little patience early on making contact with Self sending him airborne and taking him out of contention. Self would pull behind the wall for repairs returning mid-race and settling for a disappointing 31st place finish.

The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the ARCA Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway, scheduled for Saturday, March 9. The race will be live on MAVTV at 8 pm ET.