Michael Self was the meat in the middle of a five-wide sandwich on the final restart at Kansas Speedway and barely squeezed through as the leader off turn two. From there the Salt Lake City, Utah driver held off a spirited charge from Ty Majeski to win the Kansas 150 Friday night, his career-first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory.
"I knew it was going to get hairy...I just kept my foot in it," said Self. "Once we got out in clean air, it was all about hitting your marks."
Self had some help from Kyle Larson's spotter, Derek Kneeland, when it came to hitting those marks.
"Once I got the lead, Derek came on the radio and said, 'listen to me. I want you to do exactly what I tell you to do.' I did exactly what he said and we were able to pull away from the 99. It's amazing how much a good spotter can help."
In the end Self, in the No. 28 Sinclair Oil Chevrolet, pulled away, crossing under the checkered flag 10 lengths in front of Majeski, who finished a career-best second in the No. 99 Treeo's Ford.
"These restarts are all about timing," said Majeski, who led 38 of the 100 laps. "I felt like if I wouldn't have made that mistake on pit road, we would have been in better position to have a shot at the win. Track position is everything in ARCA."
Majeski stalled leaving pit road on his second pit stop which shuffled him further back in the order.
"Really wished we could have finished that one off. We've had so many close runs. I made that mistake on pit road...that was my fault. And we just got a little too free on that last run," Majeski added.
General Tire pole winner Zane Smith finished third in the No. 41 ICON Vehicle Dynamics Toyota.
"I've been everywhere on that podium except the main one," said Smith. "We went from too tight at the beginning to free, back to tight. We just need to be a lot better and I feel like there are a few things I need to work on."
Cunningham Motorsports was fourth and fifth in the final results with Shane Lee (fourth) and Dalton Sargeant (fifth), both in Big Tine-sponsored Fords.
Sheldon Creed, in the No. 12 United Rentals Toyota, led more laps than anyone, 52 in all, and was leading on the final restart before he fell back suddenly. Creed eventually had a tire go down and limped back to pit road without finishing the last five laps.
With Creed and Majeski swapping the lead for much of the race, Self struggled most of the way with an ill-handling race car before his Mardy Lindley-led MDM Motorsports team adjusted him back in the game. Self led the final nine laps.
"The credit goes to Mardy Lindley on this one," Self said. "He's such a good crew chief. We fought it all night but he just kept making little gains and never gives up. He's got so many ideas...that guy's incredible." The General Tires were awesome all day. They're so consistent, so reliable and they give such good feedback. "I've never driven harder in my life than I did tonight. This is the proudest moment of my life, coming off back-to-back K&N wins. This feels so awesome to finally get it done for Sinclair Oil. You never know when you're going to get another chance...when or if that next win will ever come. So many thanks to Sinclair for helping me get here."
Austin Theriault clinched the ARCA Racing Series national championship in Ken Schrader's No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Ford, despite finishing 25th after he brushed the wall early on.
"We overcame a lot of challenges this year," said Theriault. "We had a tremendous year...the support from back home, the crew...the all-nighters. I couldn't be more proud of the effort from everyone who shared in this championship."
While Theriault took home the biggest prize, Riley Herbst, who finished ninth, wrapped up the 2017 SCOTT Rookie of the Year title.
"We didn't win but we got the end result we came for...pretty good payday all the way around," said Herbst. "Thanks to all my Joe Gibbs Racing guys and all their hard work, and thanks to SCOTT for the Rookie of the Year. We're coming back next year to go after the championship."
The next activity for the ARCA Racing Series will be a two-day composite body open test at Talladega Superspeedway Nov. 7-8. The 65th annual national championship awards banquet follows in Indianapolis Dec. 9.
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