SAN FRANCISCO, California — To say that Michael Self is looking to get the monkey off his back this weekend in his home state of Utah may seem like a comical cliché. However, the 20 year old driver of the Shining Monkey sponsored Golden Gate Racing Team/RCR #21 Chevrolet truly is looking to do just that in round three of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. This weekend Self heads to the track he calls home where he has the most experience and some of the worst luck combined, the 2.2 Mile Road Course at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
"Both Richard Childress and I have been very pleased with Michael's performance since we signed him to the team, he's just had some tough luck that has been no fault of his own or that of the team."— Jim Offenbach, owner Golden Gate Racing Team
"Racing at Miller is definitely special for me, it has a completely different feel than going to any other race," said Self, a resident of nearby Park City, who has turned many laps in his early karting career at the Utah road course. "It's exciting to know a lot of the people I grew up racing with and have supported me in my career will be able to come out and watch me at home. But at the same time its hard to think about because the two years I have raced there in the NASCAR West series have been huge let downs."
In the last two years, Self has been a favorite to win at Miller Motorsports Park, not only due to his motivation to be the hometown hero for his friends and fellow residents but also because he performs well on the competitive road course. However, in both of his last NASCAR events at Miller with different teams, Self's hometown race was over before it barely even started.
"Both years I've been really fast and felt like I had great chances at doing well," said Self. "But both years I've blown motors in the first five laps due to mechanical problems. It's hard to think about when I know that people came out just to support me and they barely even got to see me on the track. I know things are going to be much different this year."
As he returns home this weekend for the Miller Dealerships Grand Prix, Self comes with a supporting factor he never had in his previous years at Miller Motorsports Park, the Golden Gate Racing Team. Supported by the Richard Childress Driver Development program, the San Francisco based NASCAR team owned by Jim and Patti Offenbach is one of the most respected teams on the circuit. With the best equipment, one of the sports' best crew chiefs in Steve Portenga, who directs an incredibly talented team, GGRT offers Self the moxie he needs to get down to business back home.
"I've become very close with everyone on this Golden Gate Racing Team and I'm very comfortable in my new equipment so I'm positive this year will be a different story. We tested there last week and I was very pleased with the car right out of the trailer. I know we have a fast consistent race car so it just comes down to exercising patients now."
When it comes to developing a young talented driver, the Golden Gate Racing Team is at the top of the charts in the form of communication between driver, crew chief and owner. Portenga has a great deal of racing experience both behind the wheel and on the tool box. At the same time, Offenbach is not your typical NASCAR team owner, he is very accessible to his driver and always offers the positive encouragement even when the moral is low.
"This is going to be a really good opportunity for us to capitalize in the points, added Self. "If my experience on this track and expertise at the Golden Gate Racing Team can mesh together then I know we have every opportunity to be as fast, if not faster than we've been the last few races."
With two events completed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Self is sitting ninth in the current series point standings. A strong finish in Saturday's 110 mile race in the twists and turns of MMP could launch the GGRT/RCR team forward in their quest for a run at the 2011 NASCAR West championship.
"Both Richard Childress and I have been very pleased with Michael's performance since we signed him to the team, he's just had some tough luck that has been no fault of his own or that of the team," said Offenbach. "Road courses are one of his real strong suits and racing at his home track brings a great deal of motivation to this already very motivated driver. I'm confident we are going to be running strong in Utah."
In addition to the title sponsorship of Shining Monkey and Bay Bio Diesel, The Golden Gate Racing Team has a number of associate sponsors that support them. Among their partners are the Richard Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, Hill Meat Company, Golden Gate Meat Company, Corte Madera Tow, Superior Farms, Harraka Racing Equipment Sales, Foodcomm International, Signco, Praxair and JW Web Design.
For an in-depth look at the Golden Gate Racing Team and additional news, visit their official website at www.goldengateracingteam.com. To learn more about the Richard Childress Racing Driver Development program visit www.rcrracing.com Michael Self's personal website can be found at www.michaelselfracing.com. All four entities can also be found on facebook, become a fan today.