Michael Self won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota for the second year in a row on a day when the contenders ran into tire troubles and fell back.
K&N Pro Series West racer Michael Self wins at Brainerd International Raceway in NAPA Know How 125
Self's car cut a tire on the last lap of the race. He stayed out on the 2.5-mile road course and maneuvered his car to his fourth career K&N Pro Series West win.
Michael Self and Derek Thorn at the NAPA Know How 125 at Brainerd International Raceway
"Those last 17 laps, it just went like crazy and I never looked back," Self said. "Coming down the backstretch, that last lap, that tire went and that had to be the most nerve racking thing in my entire life. I couldn't believe it."
Self started on the outside of the second row and passed Cameron Hayley for the lead on lap 35 of the NAPA Know How 125. Self was out front for the final 16 laps of the race.
He has won four of the past 13 K&N Pro Series West races starting with the race at Brainerd in 2012. He was the top finishing driver from the West Series at the K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway and won the 2012 season finale at Phoenix International Raceway.
Self's win at Brainerd on May 25 was his first of the 2013 season. His experience at the track was beneficial in repeating as the race winner.
Derek Thorn took 2nd after leading the most laps in the NAPA Know How 125
"You got to be smooth. You got to conserve your equipment," Self said. "That's what kept us there at the end, being smooth, not missing shifts. Whatever happened to the tire happens. We made it long enough to make it happen."
Andrew Ranger won the pole and was challenging Self for the lead on the last lap. But Ranger cut a tire and spun out. He finished in 10th place.
Derek Thorn started on the front row with Ranger. He led a race-high 24 laps, taking the lead from Ranger on the first lap and holding it for 16 laps before giving way to Hayley.
Thorn and Hayley battled for the lead during the middle of the race while Self waited patiently to make his move.
Thorn tried to chase down Self on the final lap, but crossed the finish line 0.952 seconds behind Self.
"We were pretty steady. We started off at a really slow pace and kind of kept it there," Self said. "There were a couple times that 24 car (Hayley) got way out front. He looked like he was gone. These races, anything can happen. Fifteen laps here is a ton. You got plenty of time."
Celebration begins for Michael Self after winning the K&N Pro Series race at Brainerd International
Thorn remains the leader in the K&N Pro Series West standings after three races. He is eight points ahead of Halyey.
Greg Pursley, who finished third at Brainerd, is third in the K&N Pro Series West standings, nine points behind Thorn.
Self moved up to fourth place in the K&N Pro Series West standings and is 15 points out of first place. He has two top-five finishes, including the win at Brainerd, in the three K&N Pro Series West races.
"The last lap was definitely the nerve-racking one," Self said. "It was like life flashing before my eyes."
Rookie Dylan Lupton was fourth in the race at Brainerd followed by Hayley in fifth.
The next race is the Casey's General Store 150 at Iowa Speedway on June 7. It is the first of two combination races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East.