Toledo, OH – (May 19, 2013) – Austin Wayne Self’s ARCA Racing Series’ debut almost went as planned. He hoped to leave Toledo Speedway with a top-5 finish.
After testing with his Cunningham Motorsports team less than a week prior to the race, Self felt that he could concentrate on improving the car during the two 45 minute practice sessions on Saturday instead of getting to know the car. With each run during practice Austin became more comfortable in the #22 AM Technical Solutions Dodge, posting the fastest speed for much of the final practice session. The 17 year old from Austin, TX, qualified 10th.
Self moved up one position at a time once the green flag flew, progressing to 7th by lap 16. Self remained in 7th until lap 52, when he moved into 6th. Several laps later teammate Tom Hessert took over the spot after running side by side with Self for a couple of laps. With 15 cars on the lead, a spin in turn 2, involving cars running near Self brought the caution out on lap 72. With minor sheet metal damage, Self brought the Penske-powered Dodge to the attention of the Paul Andrews-led pit crew. After receiving right side tires, fuel and some quick work on the minor damage, Self returned to the track in 7th. By the halfway point, Self had overtaken his teammate again, after more side by side laps—grabbing the 5th spot.
With a couple of quick yellows, Andrews decided to bring Self in for four fresh Hoosiers and fuel on lap 125, restarting 9th. Self’s battle with his teammate was not over yet, as they continued to swap positions, until Self finally took 7th with 21 laps remaining in the 200 lap event. Austin’s final push came within the final 5 laps, when he took over the 6th spot, finishing his debut ARCA race one position shy of his goal.
An excited, yet visibly hot and tired Self said, “I’m happy how the weekend played out. Cunningham gave me a great car! They always bring fast cars and that is what we had today. We needed a few more cautions towards the end, to catch back up to the leaders. But, we did the best we could. I am ready for my next ARCA race at Winchester!”
The next race for the Cunningham organization is June 1, when the teams travel to Elko Speedway in Minnesota. Austin’s next ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race will be June 30 at the high-banked short track of Winchester Speedway. In the meantime, Self’s schedule includes racing at his family-owned Central Texas Speedway in Kyle, TX.
Follow Cunningham Motorsports on twitter @cunningham_race
Follow Self on twitter @AustinWSelf