Recording back-to-back top ten finishes to start his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season was of little consolation to Michael Lira, as a mid-race pit road incident while he was running second put a potential top five run out of reach. The checker flag fell for the Troop Aid 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville with Michael in 9th place. He finished 8th last month in Mobile.
Michael had plenty of reasons to be optimistic about competing for the win. The 17-year old High School Senior had been moving up the speed charts all day, setting the 9th quickest time in the first practice, then the 5th quickest time in final practice. He backed up his practice speeds in qualifying, recording a lap of 19.672 seconds, placing him 4th on the starting grid.
“My Gary Yeomans Ford/TraqGear/Attorney At Law Fusion is fast!”,” Michael stated after qualifying. “Just tied my career best ARCA Series starting position. We’ve got a great car that can run up front and contend for the win!”
With the car in front of him sent to the rear for making a change, the outside line moved up, and Lira took the green flag from the front row for the first time in his ARCA Racing career. He maintained second place for the first 56 laps, pulling away to a several car-length lead over the 3rd place driver while working through lapped traffic much of the time.
On a restart from caution on lap 57, he dropped back one spot to third, where he ran until pitting under the second caution of the race on lap 73. Despite having his no. 58 Ford well positioned in his pit stall, Lira was delayed in exiting after the crew had finished their work by the car pitting in front of him, which was pitted at an angle. The delay put him a lap down.
After the race, Lira commented, “We got blocked in the pits and ended up losing a lap. We just never got back on track, couldn’t get through traffic to get our lap back. This is an awesome car that Crew Chief Teddy Brown and my Lira Motorsports team have put together. Everyone better watch out at Salem!”
This race marked Lira’s fourth time qualifying in the top ten, and his sixth top ten finish. His best career finish in the series is 7th, at Salem Speedway (2013), which is the next track that the series visits. Michael will be more than ready to hit the track, and try to set a new career best finish, when the green flag flies for the Federated Auto Parts 200 on April 26th in Salem.
Keep up with Michael on Twitter at @1MichaelLira and on Facebook at /MichaelLiraRacingOfficial. Also, be sure to visit www.MichaelLiraRacing.com and www.LiraMotorsports.com.