TOOELE, Utah — After strong runs all day in practice and qualifying, the San Francisco based Golden Gate Racing Team saw their hard fought efforts come up short in the Utah last weekend when the checkered flag waved at the conclusion of the Utah Grand Prix featuring the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Primary driver Michael Self was a favorite to run up front as he returned to the track he calls home with the brand new sponsorship of Rockwell Watches aboard the GGRT #21 Chevrolet that carries the support of Richard Childress Racing Driver Development. Self fought of the challenges of alternator woes throughout the afternoon. The Park City Utah resident was joined for the event by road racing ace Michael Skeen of Charlotte, North Carolina for the event.
Skeen was well on his way to the front on the 2.5 mile road course until a collision late in the race cost him several positions with little time to recover aboard the Carlisle Construction/Hawk Performance #31 Chevrolet owned by Patti Offenbach. In the end Skeen finished 17th overall while Self came across the finish line in the 18th finishing position in the third event of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event of the 2012 season that consists of 15 total events.
"It just wasn't our race to win this time," said Steve Portenga, competition director for the Golden Gate Racing Team and crew chief for the #21 of Self. "We fought alternator issues all afternoon with the #21 and the #31 should have won the race but got spun out with just three laps to go. Both drivers did a great job as well as the whole team. Now we'll get back to some short track racing in Stockton."
In practice on Saturday, Self posted the 10th fastest lap of the final group with an 82.882 mile per hour run aboard the Rockwell Watches/Miller Motorsports Park #21. Skeen was the 7th fastest driver in practice with an 83:502. In qualifying both drivers remained strong, Self timed in with the 7th fastest lap with a top speed of 95.297 while Skeen clocked the 5th fastest lap with a 94.215.
For Self, Saturday's race had a special meaning, despite the mechanical woes and the finish deep in the field. Not only did the Utah resident return to the track he calls home to be with friends and family, he also had the opportunity to debut his newest sponsor, Rockwell Watches, before the hometown crowd.
"I wish we could have had a better finish in the race but it was great to come race at home again," said Self. "A lot of my friends don't get to see a race here too often so they look forward to this every year. It was great to bring Rockwell Watches to the track since they are based in Salt Lake City. Hopefully I can give them a better finish next week in Stockton."
For Skeen, Saturday's race marked his first ever NASCAR start in his decorated career of various road racing venues. His top runs in practice and qualifying impressed many. Despite the way the race concluded, the professional road racer was pleased with his NASCAR debut.
"The whole experience was very positive. We missed out on some track time in practice but fortunately the Golden Gate Racing Team arrived with a solid package in the #31. With just a handful of laps remaining we were running in third and turning laps much faster than those in front of us. Then our hopes of victory were taken away when we were taken out on the restart. I was very pleased with the teams performance and our level of competitiveness. The cars are a fun challenge for me and I look forward to competing in more NASCAR events in the future."
With Miller Motorsports Park in the history book, the Golden Gate Racing Team returns to California this weekend for the excitement of short track racing. Currently 7th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings, Self will be behind the wheel of the #21 Rockwell Watches, Bay Bio Diesel, RCR Chevrolet as the series returns to Stockton 99 Speedway for the first time since 2006.
GGRT carries the ongoing support of Richard Childress Racing Driver Development, Pat O'Keefe's Bay Bio Diesel, the Golden Gate Meat Company, Rockwell Watches, Richard Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, RCR Street Performance, Hill Meat Company, Corte Madera Tow, Harraka Racing Equipment Sales, Foodcomm International, Signco, Praxair and JW Web Design.