My story for the city journals on Michael Self. He starts again tonight!
Gaining momentum and passing the competition is on the mind of a Utah race car driver. Michael Self has become the first Utahan to race at the national level of NASCAR; the Xfinity Series.
Self started the US Cellular 250 Aug. 1 at Iowa Speedway. He qualified 19th, ran as high as 15th before his right front tire failed sending him into the wall and finishing his night. Ryan Blaney led 252 of the 260 laps for the win, Self finished 32nd.
“Iowa was the first time I had been in a full-sized stock car in two years. I had to brush off some of cobwebs and focus and relearn my spot and learn to adapt to the car,” Self said.
Self was born in Alabama and his family moved to Park City when he was four years old. He began racing go-karts at 10 years old at Wasatch Raceway Park in Lehi. He graduated from Park City High School in 2009 and had been enrolled at the University of Utah until racing obligations limited his time.
Iowa Speedway is a race track that Self has had some experience on. He won a K & N West Series race there in 2012. He was a full-time K & N series competitor in 2011-2014.
“In the end we did not have a great weekend. The finish was not what we had hoped for, but everything up to the point that the right front tire ended our night exceeded my expectations,” Self said.
Iowa Speedway is billed as “the fastest short track on the planet.” It is a 7/8 mile asphalt paved tri-oval designed by NASCAR hall-of-famer Rusty Wallace. Self said his past success at the track helped him to get comfortable in the car.
“The speeds are not crazy high, it is an easy track to drive and I had a spotter that helped to make me comfortable,” Self said. “Racing against the big names like Chase Elliot and Ryan Blaney is not intimidating. I have beaten them before. I can compete with them; I have just not gotten the opportunity like they have. I want to go out and prove that I can still do it against them. I want to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Self is racing for JD Motorsports, a North Carolina based team for four races this season. They include Iowa (32nd place finish), The Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International in New York (finished 37th with a broken driveline), The Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (finished 27 after running as high as fourth ) and the Road American 180 in Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 29 (after press deadline).
“It would be a dream come true to run full-time in this series next year. It will depend on how we perform and see if another opportunity opens up for me,” Self said.
His words of advice to young racers with hopes and dreams to race at the highest level are to listen.
“Listen to the people around you and the experts. Find people that have been involved in the sport for a long time. I got into trouble sometimes. I thought I knew everything. I had won everything there was to win, go-karts, overseas and everywhere I had been. I thought I knew it all. It took me a lot of money and wrecked equipment to realize I needed to change some things. Listening is the biggest thing that helped my career,” Self said.