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.