Combining for seven of Venturini Motorsports’ (VMS) 12 ARCA Menards Series victories so far in 2019, teammates Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) and Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) enter the final three series events battling each other in hot pursuit of achieving championship dreams.
With Self holding a 70-point advantage over Eckes in the ARCA point standings the attention now shifts to familiar ground with Salem Speedway (September 14), Lucas Oil Raceway (October 5) and the finale at Kansas Speedway (October 18) to determine this year’s ARCA Menards Series Champion.
Entering the final stage of the season both drivers carry momentum and success at these tracks. Self, the defending spring race winner at Salem Speedway also took the checkered flag home at Kansas Speedway in 2017. While in 2018 Eckes earned his first career series victory at Salem Speedway and dominated the Lucas Oil Raceway event by leading 171 of 200 laps.
The two most dominant drivers on the circuit today, Self and Eckes have lit up the series since July with a flurry of top finishes while swapping wins over the last three races.
Self, a four-time winner in 2019 picked up his latest victory in August at Springfield and has not finished outside the top-four positions during his last five starts. In 17 overall season starts, the 28-year old Utah native has led 480 laps while posting a series high five General Tire Pole Awards.
“I’m excited to get back to asphalt racing on some familiar tracks,” says Self. “Salem is probably my favorite short track on the schedule, and Kansas is one of my favorite races of the season for a number of reasons. I’ve had success at all three of the remaining tracks, but with that being said I don’t want to be overly confident.
Christian and the guys on the 15 car have been on fire lately. It’s no secret they’ve got momentum, but I feel like our No. 25 Sinclair Oil team has been solid too. My guys continue to give me good racecars just as they’ve done all year, so more than anything I’m excited to get to go drive good racecars at fun tracks, and enjoy whatever that brings. I don’t know what the future holds for me past the end of this season, so I don’t want to waste a great opportunity being stressed over the competition and points.”
Eckes, a three-time series winner on the season including two of the last three races (Pocono Race and Springfield), has posted an impressive 1.5 average finish dating back to Iowa Speedway in July. Eckes has led 353 laps on the season and owns two of VMS’s 14 team pole awards.
“I’m really looking forward to battling with Michael to end this year out,” said the 18-year-old from Middletown, NY. “Self and that entire 25 team have been on their game the entire year and definitely made it interesting. I’m just really looking forward to continuing the momentum we’ve built over the last few races and closing out the season strong.”
Eckes also holds the top spot and is virtually a lock for this year’s Bounty Rookie of the Year honors.
The final push for the series’ championship starts Saturday, September 14 at Salem Speedway. The 106th running of ARCA’s Fall Classic will air live on MAVTV starting at 8pm ET.