Austin Wayne Self and the 22 team ended the 2014 ARCA Racing season in a heart stopping fashion. Self’s side-by-side racing around the one and a half mile track had fans on the edge of their seats as he drove hard for the first position during a restart.
“The car stuck so good in turns one and two. Turns three and four had been the better turns for us all night long so I knew we had it. If we could get by the 23 on that first lap after the restart with only 27 laps to go we would take the checkered. We had been fast all night, made up some spots during pit stops, everything was lining up.” – AWS
Self and the 22 team started the race in the 7th position. Due to poor weather the time set aside for qualifying was used as practice time and owners points determined the starting line up. With a great starting position and successful history at the Kansas Speedway, the team was confident. Self took advantage of the restarts caused by a few blown tires and cars making contact with the wall by gaining several positions. After pit stops and a few restarts Self found himself restarting in the second position with only 27 laps to go. The field had completed several laps under caution while clean up crews cleaned oil from the track. Self took this time to communicate with his crew chief and spotter to come up with a strategy for the restart.
With a strategy set, Self was as ready as ever for the restart. Self stayed side by side with the 23 car on the inside of turns one and two, confident that he would stick through three and four and take over the lead on the front stretch. Kansas Speedway had other plans for Self as he lost grip into turn four. The car got loose for only a second but that was all it took. The air took Self and turned him as he tried to save the car. It looked as though he may be able to do just that until drivers following close behind took a low line and made contact with Self, sending him back up the track and into the wall. The final hit was the worst as the driver of the 06 failed to reduce his speed and flew by other cars in the field, straight into the 22 of Self. To see footage of the crash you can visit this link.
Self walked away from the wreckage healthy. While he did take a trip to the care center (required for all drivers after a wreck in which they are not able to drive the car off the track) he was cleared and allowed to spend the remainder of the race with his team in the ARCA Garage. Even without a finish at Kansas, Self remains the leader in the Rookie of the Year Point Standings. While the Rookie of the Year title will not be officially awarded until the ARCA banquet takes place in December, Self and his team celebrated the great accomplishment of leading the points for this award. It was a major goal that they had set forth at the beginning of the 2014 season.
With the ARCA Racing season finale at Kansas Speedway completed, Austin Wayne Self secured a 6th place overall season standing with 5 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s. AWS had an average finish of 10th overall. Most impressively Austin Wayne Self secured points at the conclusion of Kansas allowing him to lead the Rookie of the Year standings.
Self said, “It’s been a really good year, I learned a lot and we met our goal. We said Rookie of the Year for our first year, and a championship in 2015. I learned how to race at the speedways and use the air to my advantage. I studied the air and studied the racing, and tried different things and that’s what this season was about. Just because this season is wrapped up, doesn’t mean I’ll be relaxing. We have some big news coming in the next few weeks and I’ll be racing throughout the off season. This is the time to raise our game and prepare for 2015. I am just excited to tell everyone about our 2015 plans.”
“I really want to thank our sponsor AM TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS for coming out and supporting me at Kansas, and throughout the entire season. Their involvement in my racing has been an incredible blessing and I am thankful for their support. Also thanks to the team at Cunningham Motorsports who has given me the tools to pursue my racing career and develop my skills. Finally I am thankful for the ARCA racing staff and team for providing a premiere competitive series for me to race in. It’s been a great year and I’m ready to get back at it in 2015.”-AWS
As mentioned before, Self will find himself in the seat a few times during the off season. Visit his website to view his upcoming schedule and for more updates on what’s to come for AWS in 2015.