Tooele • Park City’s Michael Self hopes the fifth time is the charm.
Self has driven in four previous NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races at Miller Motorsports Park, with disappointing results.
“This race has plagued me,” Self said. “It’s been horrible. Every single time out, we’ve had mechanical issues.”
Self has managed only one top-10 finish in this NASCAR race, but he’s hopeful of an improved performance Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park.
“We have put those [bad] races in the past and — knock on wood — know we have a good car,” Self said. “I have high expectations for our team. I have high expectations for myself.”
Self, 22, is an emerging star in his sport. In 53 starts in the K&N series, he has six wins and 18 top-10 finishes. This season, he has three victories in 10 starts — no other driver has won more — and he’s third in the championship standings.
This summer, Self was selected for the NASCAR Next program, which helps promote the careers of young drivers who are considered the next generation of stars.
Self’s season got off to a disappointing start at Daytona, when he rallied from 27th place to take the lead. Late in the race, he “got spun” and ended up eighth.
“We had a unbelievable run,” Self said, “and it was the biggest heartbreak ever. But I knew we had momentum.”
Self won consecutive races at Brainerd, Minn., Lebanon, Mo., and Newton, Iowa, to put himself in season-long contention for a championship.
“For me it’s not about the fame or the fortune or anything,” Self said. “I don’t care about that. I want to make a living as a race-car driver. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
“That’s why I get in the race car. There’s nothing that makes me happier — it clears my head, almost — than being in a race car.
“I love the speed. I love the competitiveness of it. As frustrating as it can be, winning a race is the most incredible feeling in the world.”
Self was born in Birmingham, where his father was a friend of NASCAR’s famed Allison family.
“Down there,” Self said, “racing is a way of life.”
When his father moved to Park City, however, Self’s interest in the sport waned. He tried motorcycles and dirt bikes, but ended up underneath them one too many times.
Eventually, he tried karting and fell in love with racing again.
After two successful years on the local, regional and national level, Self decided to “return to my Southern roots.” He turned to NASCAR and, ever since, has been on the fast-track toward racing’s highest level.
For now, though, Self is concerned about finishing well in the final five races of the K&N season.
“I don’t need to think down the road — next year or what’s going to happen with my career,” Self said. “My focus needs to be on this year, being competitive and trying to win a championship. If we do that, I think good things will come.”
Michael Self file
Profession • NASCAR driver
Hometown • Birmingham, Ala.
Residence • Park City
High school • Park City (2009)
Age • 22
Hobbies • Skiing, biking, dirt-biking, working on cars
The schedule of events for races under the Utah Grand Prix umbrella at Miller Motorsports Park:
9 a.m. • Practice for the Discount Tire Invitational and the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series
12:20 p.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 1 qualifying
12:45 p.m. • Discount Tire Invitational, practice
1:20 p.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 1
8:30 a.m. • NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, practice
10:35 a.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, practice
11:10 a.m. • Discount Tire Invitational, practice
12:40 p.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 2 qualifying
1:30 p.m. • NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, qualifying
3:15 p.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 2
4 p.m. • NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, pre-race ceremonies
4:30 p.m. • NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race
9 a.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, practice
9:15 a.m. • Discount Tire Invitational, practice
10:10 a.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 3 qualifying
10:35 a.m. • Discount Tire Invitational, qualifying
12:15 p.m. • Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, Race 3
12:45 p.m. • Discount Invitational