Michael Self wins ARCA opener at Daytona, edging Hailie Deegan

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Michael Self won the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, edging rising star Hailie Deegan for his eighth victory in the feeder series over the past four years.

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

"This is like nothing else," said Self, driving a Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. "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 settled for second, matching the best finish for a woman in a 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."

And standing in victory lane might have been a case of too much, too soon, Deegan said.

"Winning the first race would have maybe been a little too high of standards for the rest of the season," Deegan said. "Everything would have been downhill. This gives me something to still work towards."

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 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 past 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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.