Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Michael Self Snags Third ARCA Win as Majeski Runs Dry

Michael Self wins again with Venturini
Yogi Berra is famous for saying (among other things) "It ain't over till it's over" and he must have seen last Friday's ARCA Menards Series race in his crystal ball. John Belushi's character "Bluto" in Animal House years later reprised Yogi's saying with "It ain't over till we say it's over" which was also true at Michigan as Michael Self dominated the 100 lap race but surrendered the lead to Ty Majeski on a late pit stop for gas while Majeski was trying to nurse his Ford to the finish on fumes. The fuel gamble almost got Ty a third consecutive ARCA win but he ran dry on coming through Turn 3 on the last lap and Self swept by for the win. A race that Self appeared to have in the bag took on a new look those last dozen laps but Self wasn't ready to say it was over even after seeing his dominant lead evaporate. Sometimes perseverance pays and that was definitely the case for Self's Venturini Motorsports team at Michigan International Speedway.

My 2015 Civic has been a road warrior
In a crazy sort of way, the Michigan race mirrors my life recently. Since April 26, I have put over 6000 miles on my Civic Si. Thank God I get good gas mileage - she sips the Premium fuel as I rack up the miles. During this same time frame, I've had consecutive racing weeks at Talladega, Nashville, the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Indy 500 practice, Toledo Speedway, Charlotte, the Indy 500, Pocono Raceway, and most recently Michigan. And it ain't over yet - I hit the road again Thursday (tomorrow) for the next ARCA event in Madison, Wisconsin for a 200 lap race Friday night under the lights. It's another new racetrack for me and I am looking forward to it. After Madison, we'll be at the halfway point in the ARCA season and the next two weeks are already booked, since we go to Gateway and then Chicagoland after Madison. That will be 10 straight weeks with a race, the longest such stretch in my life. All the time away from home comes with a price but that's got to be the subject of another blog another time. Thank God for my patient and understanding fiance, friends and family. Next year at this time, I hope to be back at Le Mans shooting along the Porsche curves and at Arnage, so you can imagine the discussions we've had in our household at times as I chase my passions for racing and photography around the world.

Travis Braden and Bret Holmes race for position at Michigan and overall for the season title
But I digress. I love going to Michigan for races. The first time was in 1981 and the drive is still the same along US 12, past places Devils Lake Highway, Cement City and Round Lake Highway. The racing never disappoints although for most of this ARCA race, Michael Self had the field covered. I have been most impressed with Ty Majeski over the last few weeks and it was cool to see his team take a gamble on fuel as that surely was the only way they were going to win. Another win keeps Self at the top of the season standings. The bridesmaid so far this season has been Bret Holmes who has run strong enough to be second in points but never quite strong enough to get a race win. Following Holmes in the standings is Travis Braden in third overall, with Christian Eckes in fourth despite missing a race, and Majeski's teammate Joe Graf Jr. in fifth. There's only 130 points separating the top five in the season standings so Madison could be a pivotal race and much could change before we get into July.

Majeski and Eckes race hard
Winning is getting to be routine for the Venturini Motorsports drivers, and they have grown into the strongest team in the series this year. It's no wonder that they get the best young drivers to race for them in their extra cars. Self and Eckes are full time and going for the series championship but their other car (or cars) has featured the likes of rising star Hailie Deegan and Chandler Smith, both of whom will be at Madison this weekend. When you add in other aspiring drivers like Riley Herbst and Ty Gibbs for the Gibbs team, competition has been fierce this season even though the car count has been less than most people would like to see. If you haven't had the chance to check out the ARCA Menards Series website, you really should give it a look as our photos are helping to tell the stories of these great young drivers who are the future of stock car racing. To see some of the current photo albums, please click here for the site. In the meantime, I am going to leave you with a few more photos I shot at Michigan. Come on out to a race and say hi! We have fun and these "kids" are full of surprises. Until next time, safe travels everyone and Godspeed.

Michael Self needed a splash of fuel to finish at Michigan
There are places at some tracks where the lighting is perfect; Michigan has that as Joe Graf, Jr. dives into Turn 1
Bret Holmes (23) has been strong all season so far but hasn't found Victory Lane yet
Pit lane is a busy place even under green flag conditions
Riley Herbst (18) can't catch a break lately but his day will come

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