Five card draw results in a 21 for Self and GGRT in Showdown at Irwindale
IRWINDALE, CA (1-28-11)-- It's known as the Daytona 500 of short track racing, the annual NASCAR Showdown at the famed Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California. This annual event draws the East and West together in the K&N Pro Series and brings a great deal of triumph, a good share of heartbreak and great exposure for many. Such was the case this past weekend in sunny Southern California.
For Michael Self and the Richard Childress supported Golden Gate Racing Team, Irwindale Speedway offered it's share of ups and downs over the two day affair. After a top qualifying position on Friday evening, Saturday night dealt an ill fated hand to the San Francisco based NASCAR West team but in the end it portrayed how Self is the comeback kid of this very experienced race team.
"I'm definitely not disappointed with how the weekend went. If anything, I'm thrilled with the fact that we made our presence and people definitely knew we were there," said Self. "We obviously had a strong car and the team worked really well to get it where it was and we made a lot of comebacks."
For Self, the weekend in Irwindale clearly illustrated the strength the Golden Gate Racing Team possesses with this 20 year old talent from Park City, Utah behind the wheel who isn't afraid of going fast whatsoever. In the first practice of the event Self posted the 14th quickest time in the field with a top speed of 95.309 miles per hour.
After a few adjustments by crew chief Steve Portenga and the GGRT crew, Self returned to the track and moved up to the 11th position in the final practice when he picked up his pace to 95.755 miles per hour. It was then that team knew they were ready to make their mark in qualifying and they did just that.
Out of the 40 cars that qualified Friday night, Self drove the Golden Gate Meat Company-Bay Bio Diesel #21 Chevrolet to an impressive fifth place with a top speed of 97:360 miles per hour and a 18:488 second lap around the oval. The effort placed the newest driver to be named a member of the Richard Childress Driver Development Program on the inside of the third row for the 225 lap race that was broadcast nationwide on Speed TV.
Self got several perspectives of Saturday's race from the cockpit as he found himself relinquished to the rear of the field and charged his way back through it, more than once. While he didn't score a top finish at the end of the night, Self defeated the threats of adversity with the support of his entire team and overcame a series of obstacles including a flat tire, coming back from a lap down and avoiding the mass carnage that took place throughout much of the race that ended the night early for many top teams. In the end, Self finished 21st in the field.
"We came back from the end of the field early on, then overcame going a lap down to moving back toward the front, " said Self. "In the end it was just one of those nights where luck really wasn't on our side. No one could've done anything about the flat tire, it was just part of racing. I managed to keep my nose clean and brought the car home with barely a scratch which is an accomplishment in it's own at that race."
With the Toyota Showdown in the history book, the real work begins in just a few weeks for the Golden Gate Racing Team with the start of the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. The championship campaign begins at Phoenix International Raceway on February 24 where the Golden Gate Racing Team will begin their run toward the season championship with Self as its primary driver.
"It's time to get down to business in Phoenix," said Jim Offenbach, owner of the Golden Gate Racing Team. "Michael made a great effort in Irwindale, coming back when the cards were down. When luck doesn't go your way early in a race it's hard to refocus yourself. I'm pretty proud of this team, that's a tough race and they kept on digging to the end."