In 2013, Austin Wayne Self notched a career-best second-place finish in his second-career ARCA Racing Series start at Winchester Speedway.
In the same race in 2015, Self cruised to his first win in front of friends and family.
Self, 19, drove his No. 98 AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Ford around Brandon Jones for the lead on a restart with six to go and kept his competitors at bay to take the Herr’s Chase the Taste 200. The win is the first of 2015 for Self and Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM).
Self took the win in what looked like a role-reversal of the battle between Jones and Mason Mitchell in the 2014 ARCA race at Winchester. Coming through turns three and four with five to go, Self slid up the track and made contact with Jones. The Austin, Texas native took the top spot following the contact and pulled away to earn the victory.
“I think (we had the best car) at the very end of the race,” said Self. “You know, we just worked hard. I gave feedback to Mark and the team made changes, and I could feel a positive affect. There was one point of the race where Ken (Schrader) was in front of us, and I felt like that’s the racecar I wanted. We just worked a little bit. I felt like the last restart, we definitely had a car to win.
“Getting it here at Winchester… In 2013, this was my second start, and we finished second to Frank Kimmel. I think he got his 79th win. This is always a place where I felt like I really wanted to win. I had my family here, all of my friends and I just love this place a lot. The racing’s always a lot of fun, and to be able to come home with a win is really big for me.”
Asked about the last restart, Self admitted to getting some coaching from his team.
“You don’t get too many chances to get put in a position with six laps to go on a restart on the front row,” explained Self.” “So they were just making sure I was up on my game, just like we were trying to be all day.
“I was trying not to focus (on Jones). I was looking ahead and listening to them count down the laps, you know: 4, 3, 2, 1. I just tried not to think about it too much and just drove the race car the hardest I could.”
Mitchell, who lost the race under similar circumstances last year, but as a driver, felt retribution following the victory as a car owner.
“It takes away a little bit of the pain from last year; not all of it, because I wasn’t behind the wheel, but it always feels good when you’re in victory lane,” said Mitchell.
When asked, Mitchell noted that the roles were similar.
“We were basically in the same role (last year) except they were reversed,” said Mitchell. “We were in second this time. We had an opportunity to do what he did last year. I remember Kenny Schrader said last year to me: “You gotta do what you’ve gotta do. It’s racing, and that’s what you have to do for the wins.”
After losing the lead on the restart, Jones would finish third despite leading a race-high 98 laps.
“I think we needed it to go green honestly,” said Jones. “A couple people were saying we shouldn’t have had that caution. I think (Self) was struggling trying to get underneath us while we were running on the green-flag run. He just did kind of the same thing I did last year, which is all good. They didn’t wreck us or anything, so I’ve gotta thank them for that.
“It was hard racing. Second’s where you’ve gotta be in the hot seat at this place to try to win a race here. We’ll go to Iowa, and we’re really good there, so hopefully we’ll get us one.”
After leading in the race’s early stages, Grant Enfinger overcame a bad set of tires to finish in second to increase his points lead.
“Starting out the race we were good,” said Enfinger. “I was trying to follow Brandon (Jones) as long as I could there. I was finally able to get by him on a restart, and then we just kind of tried to pace ourselves.
“We came in and took two tires and ended up having a slow leak on one of them, which cost us a little bit of track position there at the end, but we were able to rally back,” Enfinger continued. “To come back and finish second is a good run for us.
“I feel like me and Austin (Self) were relatively equal there at the end of the race. Whichever one was in front at the end was going to have the position to get by Brandon. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the win because we had such a good car, but we’re really proud of second place and everything this team came from.”
Kyle Weatherman and Justin Boston rounded out the top five. Boston, who was quickest in Saturday’s lone practice session, was involved in an early accident when the lapped cars of Thomas Praytor and Ricky Howerton crashed in front of him.
“When (spotter) Rit told me we had a caution, I looked up and I was already committed, so I just locked them down and tried to avoid them as much as I could,” said Boston. “It seems like that happens. Rit told me the 98 was looking up top, so I decided to try to roll the top. As soon as I saw we were wrecking, it was kind of too late.”
Championship contenders Tom Hessert and Josh Williams came home in sixth and seventh. James Swanson, Sarah Cornett-Ching and A.J. Fike rounded out the top 10.
Ken Schrader led 55 laps during the middle stages of Sunday’s race, but fell backward on a lap 150 restart. Schrader, who won at Salem Speedway earlier this season, would fade on the penultimate green flag run before coming down pit road with apparent tire issues. The Fenton, Missouri native would finish in 13th, four laps down.
The yellow flag flew seven times for 53 laps, dropping the average speed of the race to 62.862 mph. There were 11 lead changes between seven drivers.
The last change went to Self, who had friends and family attending the race.
“I hope they liked that burnout down there,” said Self. “I don’t think the crew chief liked it too much. He was getting on the radio (and saying), “Get off! Get off!”
“But it felt good,” Self continued. “I think I could hear them in the racecar on that last restart. It’s just so cool to be able to do it here in front of them. They’ve been waiting while they’ve been supporting me, and to be able to get it here in front of my home crowd is really cool.”
“It’s a heck of a morale booster,” added Mitchell, who scored MMM’s last victory at Chicagoland in 2014. “I think, going through some changes in the company and roles, and really having strong cars the last few weeks and really having some unfortunate circumstances racing that put us back a little bit, this is a huge morale booster for Austin, his family, and all the guys.
“Knowing we can do it, all of the right pieces of the puzzle just have to work together. We have to drive really hard and put good cars on the racetrack.”
While Mitchell thought about the team’s morale, Self was left trying to grasp his first victory.
“It’s just awesome,” said Self. “I think it’s going to take a little bit. You know, I’ve settled down a little bit, but I think it’s going to come back here in another hour or so.
“We got a little taste of it now, and I think we’re ready to start doing this some more.”
By Aaron Bearden – 51 Correspondent
ARCA RACING SERIES – June 28, 2015
Winchester Speedway, IN
|FIN||STR||NO||DRIVER/HOMETOWN||TEAM & CAR||LAPS||STATUS|
|1||7||98||Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX||AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Ford||200||Running|
|2||3||23||Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL||GMS Racing Chevrolet||200||Running|
|3||2||25||Brandon Jones/Atlanta GA||Ansell-Menards Toyota||200||Running|
|4||1||22||Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO||Cunningham Motorsports Ford||200||Running|
|5||4||55||Justin Boston/Baltimore MD||Venturini Motorsports Toyota||200||Running|
|6||5||77||Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ||Barbera’s Autoland Ford||200||Running|
|7||6||6||Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL||Southwest Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet||200||Running|
|8||18||48||James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ||Kan Do-Radon.com Dodge||199||Running|
|9||10||2||Sarah Cornett-Ching/Summerland BC||Race101.net Chevrolet||199||Running|
|10||24||27||A.J. Fike/Galesburg IL||Liberty Village-McGladrey Ford||199||Running|
|11||16||10||Clayton Weatherman/Wentzville MO||United Nissan-St. Charles Glass Ford||199||Running|
|12||23||03||Kevin Rutherford/Flower Mound TX||Antler Hunt Ranch-Rutherford Painting Chevrolet||197||Running|
|13||8||52||Ken Schrader/Fenton MO||Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet||196||Running|
|14||25||31||Richard Hauck/Howell MI||HeavenlyHeat.com Dodge||176||Running|
|15||12||9||Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL||DK LOK Ford||164||Running|
|16||15||59||David Levine/Highland Park IL||Ford Performance-MOMO-Traqgear Ford||151||Running|
|17||11||42||Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY||Crosley Brands-T&T Constr-Glad Precision Dodge||123||Accident|
|18||13||97||Eric Caudell/Piedmount OK||Honoring America’s Warriors-Collectors & Filters Dodge||116||Engine|
|19||20||06||Con Nicolopouls/Columbus MI||Wayne Peterson Racing Ford||108||Brakes|
|20||14||69||Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN||Kimmel Racing Ford||61||Brakes|
|21||21||0||Wayne Peterson/Pulaski TN||Wayne Peterson Racing Ford||42||Handling|
|22||26||56||Ricky Howerton/Indianapolis IN||Crosley Brands-T&T Constr-Glad Precision Dodge||29||Accident|
|23||17||68||Mark Meunier/Louisville KY||Kimmel Racing Ford||11||Vibration|
|24||9||58||Michael Lira/Port Orange FL||Ford Performance-MOMO-Traqgear Ford||2||Oil Line|
|25||22||00||Mike Abram/Elida OH||Wayne Peterson Racing Chevrolet||2||Handling|
|26||19||40||Alex Clubb/Morris IL||Aget Dustkop-Capture it. Filter it. Breathe it. Dodge||0||Engine|
|3||Josh White/Charleston WV||Hixson Construction Chevrolet||DNS|
|Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell: None (rained out)|
|Margin of Victory: 0.515 seconds||Cautions: 7 for 53 laps|
|Time of Race: 1:35:27||Average Speed: 62.862 mph|
|Lap Leaders: Jones 1-11, 14-55, 150-194 (98); Enfinger 12-13, 56-80, 84-90 (34); Fike 81-83 (3);|
|Schrader 91-141, 146-149 (55); Weatherman 142 (1); Swanson 143-145 (3); Self 195-200 (6)|