Written by Adrian Beecher
Michael Self in the No. 15 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota brought home the victory at Daytona on Saturday evening in the Lucas Oil 200, the opening race for the ARCA Series. It was a wild one at the World Center of Racing that saw seven cautions total, including two red flags at the end that caused multiple one-lap shootout's. Here's how it all when down at Daytona!
Natalie Decker in the No. 25 N29 Capitol Partners Toyota started on the pole. However, it was Zane Smith in the No. 41 LaPaz Margarita Mix Toyota leading the first lap of the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire.
The first ten laps saw Zane lead the way, with Max Tullman in the No. 78 Zoomi-Myota Chevrolet following suit in 2nd, while Decker filled out the top three. Things stayed this way until lap 23.
That is when the No. 99 Hub International Ford of Ronnie Osmer blew an engine. Following that almost immediately, coming out of turn four, the No. 52 Drydene of Will Rodger's, No. 7 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet and the No. 02 Our Motorsports Chevrolet all got into each other as the first caution of the day came out.
After the caution, it was Max Tullman out in front in the No. 78, with the No. 28 United Rentals Toyota of Sheldon Creed hot on his tail. Creed would make his way into the front of the pack on the opening lap of the restart. Tullman in the No. 78 and Creed in the No. 28 then spent the next ten laps jockeying for position at the front of the pack.
Eventually, through the sequence, Tullman would make his stake for the lead spot and bring the field to the start-finish line at the halfway mark. Then the 2nd caution of the day came out as yet another engine blew. This time it was the engine of the No. 30 International Tool & Mold-RJR Ford of Grant Quinlan.
Tullman would fall back to 15th during the caution flag, while Creed found himself in the lead as the field came back to the green flag. Ahead of the green flag, however, Natalie Decker in the No. 25 had to come back down pit road to top of on fuel after failing to make the right calculations on their previous pit. This forced Decker to start from the back of the field on the restart.
Shortly after the restart, the 3rd caution of the day came out as Willie Mullins in the No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling-CW Metals-Bugsys Auto Ford got into the back of Daniel Sasnett in the No. 33 Standard Sand & Silica Chevrolet, who then slammed front first into the outside wall. The No. 22 of Ed Pompa in the Double H Ranch-Clifton Trucking Toyota went low to try to avoid the spinning No. 33. As Pompa went back up the track into the banking exiting the tri-oval, he got loose, slamming into Andrew Belmont in the No. 2 ModSpace Ford. That would be the end of the day for both the No. 33 and the No. 22.
They would get back to green flag racing with just 24 laps to go with Creed in the No. 28 still out in front. On the restart, the No. 78 of Tullman, back in 15th, checked up leaving Decker in the No. 25 with nowhere to go as she ran into the back of Tullman, destring her left front fender. She was able to stay out on the track she waited for another caution. Bringing the field back to the start-finish line on the first lap of the restart was Sean Corr in the No. 43 was out in front.
Then with just 16 laps to go, the 4th caution of the day came out in a semi-big one in turn two. After getting loose in turn 4, causing damage to the car, the No. 38 of Jerry DeWeerdt lost control going into turn two. DeWeerdt collected Bo LeMastus in the No. 77 Crosley Brads-Big Tire Ford and Quinn Houff in the No. 98 BeatinCancerWithDuke.org Chevrolet. The No. 46 and No. 5 also were involved.
On the restart, it was in the No. 43 in the lead with just 9 to go. Creed Pulled back into the lead with just eight laps to go as he looked to capture his first ever ARCA win. However, chaos would soon ensue.
Then the 5th caution of the night came out as Tony Mrakovich in the No. 10 SMART Emissions Reducer by Extreme Energy Solutions Chevrolet slows on the track. This was caused due to a collision with the wall in turn two.
With just four laps to go, the field got restarted with Creed still in the lead. Creed would stay out in front as the field made their way to the white flag. Then, as the field made their way through the backstretch, things got crazy.
Riley Herbst in the No. 18 was pushing hard on the throttle into the back of Gus Dean in the No. 3. This caused Bret Holmes in the No. 23 to go sideways, clipping Zane Smith in the No. 41 who goes backward. Meanwhile, the 23 of Holmes slide on its side up in flames as the No. 32 and No. 66 get under the No. 23. This brought out the red flag, forcing a signature ARCA shootout that consists of a one-lap shootout.
On the one lap-shootout, as the cars made their ways into turn four, the top four leaders of the race got into each other. The No. 28 of Creed, gets loose along with Chase Purdy in the No. 8 BAMA Buggies Toyota. The No. 8 of Purdy slid up the track crushing the No. 43 NESCO-Empire Racing Chevrolet of Sean Corr and No. 27 MatrixCare-Consonus Healthcare-Liberty Village Ford of Travis Branden who then smashed into the outside retaining wall. This then caused a slew of cars to pile up behind them as the 2nd red flag of the race came out as they cleaned up the mess to prepare for an additional shootout.
After a 28 minute red flag, the No. 15 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota of Michael Self was in the lead. Self would jump up to a huge lead on the restart. The drivers raced clean on the restart, and there were no further wrecks. As Self made his way into the tri-oval coming out of turn 4, he had a half second lead on Mullins in the No. 3.
Michael Self would cross the checkered flag and capture the victory in the opening ARCA race of the season. Mullins in the No. 3 came in 2nd, Sheldon Creed in the No. 28 came in 3rd, with the No. 55 of Tom Hesster in 4th and Natalie Decker in the No. 25 rounding out the Top 5.
The race ended with just 18 cars left on the track and just 14 cars left on the lead lap.
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