Self, who lost last season’s championship by 25 points to Christian Eckes, held off rookie Hailie Deegan to win Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200, capturing his second victory in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Self led 60 of the 80 laps and never seemed seriously challenged late in the race.
“I tell people a lot one of the most important things to win this race is having a car that is stable,” Self said. “Speed isn’t necessarily the main thing that wins you this race. It’s being able to be the car out front or the car in the middle of the pack and being able to hang on to it when you’re being bump-drafted.
“All the guys at Venturini Motorsports have done a phenomenal job giving us those cars. It makes life easier for us as drivers. It’s nice to know you have the speed on top of it.
“As a driver that’s exactly what you want to have for this race.”
Deegan tied for the best finish in ARCA by a female driver. Erin Crocker (three times) and Shawna Robinson (one) were the others to accomplish the feat.
“Of course you want to win, but I am really happy about finishing second in my first race at Daytona,” Deegan, 18, said. “My goal for this race was top-three to top-five – that was going to be a victory for me.
“I was totally fine with finishing second. I wasn’t going to try to do anything to Michael. There wasn’t much I could do in the situation.”
Deegan is the daughter of Brian Deegan, a motocross rider, off-road racer, and former X Games athlete. She is running her first full season in the ARCA series and will likely do some NASCAR Truck races later in the year. Her previous best finish in ARCA was a fifth last season at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Drew Dollar finished third, Sean Corr was fourth and Thad Moffit – the grandson of Richard Petty – ended up fifth.