After Spruce Creek High School’s Michael Lira posted the fourth fastest qualifying lap of the weekend at Pocono Raceway, ARCA race fans were eager to see if the seventeen-year-old rookie from Port Orange, Florida, had an encore performance in him for the evening’s 125-mile ModSpace 125. Lira didn’t disappoint. In his first career race at “The Tricky Triangle,” the talented young Kimmel Racing driver scored a 10th-place finish in the No. 68 Gary Yeomans Ford Fusion, his third top-10 finish of the season.
“We probably had a top-3 car,” Lira said. “We were right with Will (Kimmel) and Justin (Boston) speed-wise, but they short-pitted and that was the best strategy. We were thinking it was going to rain so we waited to pit late. All in all, an awesome weekend. If someone told me I was going to qualify top-5 in my superspeedway debut, I’d think they were crazy. Very happy with this weekend.”
It was a gripping race from the drop of the green flag. On Lap 14, Lira’s day nearly ended early when a car spun directly in front of him, but some dexterous driving from the talented rookie saw him maneuver the No. 68 to safety with a quick move to the bottom.
Around the halfway point of the race, Lira and the No. 55 car of Cody Coughlin made contact in a battle for position. Lira’s No. 68 sustained minor damage to the right-front fender, which cost the rookie a little bit of speed, but he fought hard to maintain track position en route to his third top 10 of the season.
“It was a battle out there,” Lira said. “We were running around the top 5 for a while and there was some good hard racing going on up there. I’m happy to bring home another top 10 for Kimmel Racing and Gary Yeomans Ford.”
Next up on Lira’s ARCA Racing Series schedule is the 200-mile Federated Auto Parts 200 at Berlin Raceway. The race is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 9, 2014. Berlin Raceway was the site of Lira’s ARCA Racing Series debut in 2013, in which he finished 12th, so the young rookie has some experience at the short track.
For more on Michael Lira, follow him on Twitter at @LiraRacing and @1MichaelLira.