In what was a wreck-filled race and day, one driver was able to survive the madness and that was Venturini Motorsports’ Michael Self who brought home the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway to win the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire.
Self qualified on the pole and pretty much stayed out front for the majority of the race. Most importantly, he missed several wrecks including a big one that happened on Lap 49. In the end, Self accomplished his second win at Daytona for Venturini Motorsports, having also won in 2018.
“It’s unbelievable. I can tell you the second time is every bit as sweet as the first,” he said. “And to do it with this group of people around me. Sinclair Oil, Toyota, my family here, a bunch of my friends here. It’s no secret, it’s a little extra special to come to Daytona. And to do it here with these guys makes it more special on top of that. Just a truly amazing day for us a little bit surreal.”
After a long off-season, the ARCA Menards Series drivers had their first race of the season on a sunny and cool Saturday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Florida. It didn’t take long though for the cautions to start flying. In fact, the first quarter of the race was run almost under caution.
The cautions started out on the first lap of the race. Andy Seuss in the No. 02 OUR Motorsports got tangled up going into Turn 3. Seuss had contact with World of Outlaw star David Gravel, which sent Seuss spinning in the grass and coming back up the track collecting Scott Reeves in the No. 88 and Eric Caudell in the No. 7. Then on Lap 11, the caution came out again for the No. 97 of Jason Kitzmiller. Kitzmiller had an engine failure on track, which prompted ARCA officials to throw the caution. The same would happen again just after a Lap 16 restart for Brad Smith in the No. 48. Smith also experienced an engine failure that ended his day early.
A restart came on Lap 24 and we saw a few green flag laps before another caution fell. On Lap 38, a big wreck occurred going into Turn 1. Several drivers were involved including Natalie Decker, Willie Mullins, David Gravel, Connor Hall, Dave Mader III, John Ferrier, and J.J. Pack.
It seemed like the word caution would be the drinking word for the Lucas Oil 200, at least for the first half of the race. A yellow slowed the pace once more on Lap 49 for the No. 11 of Chuck Hiers in the Andy Hillenburg entry. Hiers got an accidental bump draft that went wrong after a slight shove from Hailie Deegan in the No. 4 off Turn 2. Hiers’ No. 11 slammed the backstretch wall and the car was totaled and was done for the night.
It seemed like this race would never get some green flag laps under its belt, but a long green-flag run broke out after a restart on Lap 55. The drivers maintained their cool and continued to set a smooth pace, hoping for a clean race to the finish.
Some activity started to develop, however, with 15 to go. Smoke began to come out of the back of the No. 17 of DGR-Crosley driver Tanner Gray. Gray, who was Deegan’s teammate for this race, was eventually black flagged for excessive smoke. Gray brought his car down pit road and was done early due to a blown engine.
While a caution did not come out for Gray, it came out for debris with 10 to go on the backstretch. It appeared as though this debris came from the No. 28 of David Gravel as when he came down pit road, the entire right side of the door came off his car. In what is mandatory for the ARCA Series, Gravel needed a window to go back on the track and finish the race. He was able to get a window, but his whole right side was tapped up in order to finish.
A late-race restart came with four laps to go with Michael Self, Hailie Deegan, Drew Dollar and Bret Holmes out front, all searching for their first Daytona victory. With very little time, Deegan tried all she could to make a move on Self, but eventually she ran out of time to get a run on the No. 25 machine as Self went on to take the checkered flag at Daytona.
This was Self’s first victory at Daytona International Speedway. Self led 61 of the scheduled 80 laps to earn his eighth ARCA Menards Series victory.
Despite falling short, Deegan was still excited about her second-place finish in her Daytona debut.
“Pretty much at the end there, all I wanted to do was finish,” she said. “My goal for this race was top three to top-five was a victory for me. I was totally fine finishing second. I wasn’t going to try to do anything to Michael. It is a long season and I have to race against these guys week in and week out. It is best to stay on good terms with them.”
- Michael Self
- Hailie Deegan
- Drew Dollar
- Sean Corr
- Thad Moffitt
- Jason White
- Riley Herbst
- Willie Mullins
- Bret Holmes
- Scott Melton
- Thomas Praytor
- David Gravel, one lap down
- Charles Buchanan Jr., one lap down
- Con Nicolopoulos, four laps down
- Benny Chastain, five laps down
- Tanner Gray, 10 laps down
- Eric Caudell, 13 laps down
- Tim Richmond, 25 laps down
- Chuck Hiers, OUT
- Connor Hall, OUT
- Ryan Huff, OUT
- Ryan Repko, OUT
- Gus Dean, OUT
- J.J. Pack, OUT
- Dominique Van Wieringen, OUT
- Natalie Decker, OUT
- Jacob Heafner, OUT
- Andy Seuss, OUT
- John Ferrier, OUT
- Dave Mader III, OUT
- Brad Smith, OUT
- John Kitzmiller, OUT
- Scott Reeves, OUT
Up Next: The ARCA Menards Series takes a few weeks before their next race on Friday, March 6 at Phoenix International Raceway.