Self wins ARCA opener at Daytona, edges rising star Deegan

Sports

Michael Self (25) leads the field at the start the ARCA auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Michael Self took home the first trophy of Speedweeks. Hailee Deegan settled for making history at Daytona International Speedway.

Self won the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona on Saturday, edging rising star Deegan for his eighth victory in the developmental series over the last four years.

Self held off Deegan and Drew Dollar over the final four laps for his second win at the famed track in the last three years. He also won the ARCA opener in 2018.

“This is like nothing else,” Self said. “The second time is just as sweet as the first time was. It’s just unbelievable to do it in the fashion we did today.”

The 18-year-old Deegan stayed in line behind Self instead of pulling out and trying to make a pass. She crossed the finish line second, matching the best finish for a woman in an ARCA race and tying the best finish by a woman at Daytona. Shawna Robinson started fifth and finished second in the 1999 ARCA race at Daytona.

Deegan celebrated the runner-up finish with her parents on pit road.

“Nothing could have been better for me,” she said. “Of course you want to win, but this was a victory for me.”

Dollar was third. Former NHRA Pro Stock Series champion Tanner Gray was black flagged with 10 laps remaining and finished 16th. Gray was running fourth at the time.

Self led 60 of 80 laps in the first race of Speedweeks, which kicks off the start of the yearlong racing season. Self was a former development driver for Richard Childress Racing who has made seven Xfinity Series starts for JD Motorsports. He also has eight wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

Deegan’s career took off after she won three times over the last three years in the K&N Series.

She arrived at Daytona with a new team, new manufacturer support and a full-time ride in the ARCA Series. Until December, Deegan had been part of a crowded development program with Toyota. But she made the switch to Ford and got immediate opportunities, landing a full-time ride with DGR-Crosley that could lead to races in NASCAR’s Truck Series in 2020. Ford also offered her seat time in sports cars.

“First time racing at Daytona? How could you not be nervous?” Deegan said.

Added her mom, Marissa: “She crushed it out there.”

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