Seventeen-year old Michael Lira was more than ready for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards ARCA Mobile 200 at Mobile International Speedway, after skipping the season opener in Daytona due to ARCA age restrictions. His patience paid off on Saturday with an 8th place finish at the 1/2 mile Alabama Gulf Coast track.
After getting into town on Thursday to unveil his brand new Gary Yeomans / TraqGear / AttorneyAtLaw Ford Fusion utilizing the new ARCA composite body at the ARCA Fan Fest at the USS Alabama, Lira was ready to get down to business on Friday. Unfortunately, he would have to wait another day to start his race weekend, as rain forced the cancellation of Friday’s practice sessions and qualifying.
With qualifying canceled, the starting field was set by owners points. “We’re a new team and have no previous year owner’s points to fall back on, so our Lira Motorsports Fords will be coming through the field tomorrow,” Michael commented on Friday night. “My teammate David and I have a long way to go, but after testing here last week, I know we have the cars to get it done.”
ARCA officials decided to add a short practice session to the schedule on Saturday morning, which gave Michael and his crew chief Teddy Brown the opportunity to dial the car in. Michael ended the 30 minute session at 10th fastest.
The race was a physical, short-track battle, with a total of 11 caution periods and nine lead changes. Michael was running inside the top five just past the halfway point in the race before ultimately finishing in 8th. This marks the second year in a row that Michael has started his ARCA season with a top ten. He finished the 2014 ARCA Mobile 200 in 9th place.
After the race, Michael reflected, “Mobile is one of my favorite stops on the ARCA schedule. The fans and community are very engaged and supportive. We had a top-5 car easily, but the free pass didn’t quite fall our way at the end, and we still recovered for a strong P8. Overall it was an awesome ARCA Racing Series debut with my new ARCA team, Lira Motorsports. I’m proud of my guys, I know we will come back even better at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville next month.”
Michael’s strong performance, starting 23rd and picking up 15 positions to finish 8th, earned him the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for the race.
Keep up with Michael on Twitter at @1MichaelLira and on Facebook at /MichaelLiraRacingOfficial. Also, be sure to visit his official website at www.MichaelLiraRacing.com.