At only 16 years old, Michael Lira is ready to check another world-famous race track off of his list. This time he heads to Pocono Raceway with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Lira, driver of the No. 68 Gary Yeomans Ford Fusion for Kimmel Racing, is the youngest driver expected to participate in the open test at Pocono.
The talented young racer and International Baccalaureate student from Port Orange, Florida, has been busy in the last few months, testing at two of the most daunting tracks on the NASCAR circuit: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
In December, Lira completed an exciting three-day testing session at Daytona International Speedway with the ARCA Racing Series. It was his first time on the historic speedway that he’s grown up down the street from. In April, Lira tackled Talladega Superspeedway, putting down some impressive lap times in his first experience at the notorious Alabama race track. On the second day testing there with ARCA, Lira scored the fastest single-car lap time of the day.
The ARCA Racing Series has an open test scheduled at Pocono Raceway Wednesday, June 4, in advance of the Pocono ARCA 200 Saturday, June 7. The test will take place from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
In addition to ARCA teams searching for more track time ahead of the Pocono ARCA 200, the test will serve as an opportunity for rookies like Lira to participate in the open test and gain experience on Pocono’s unique 2.5-mile triangular layout.
While Lira is permitted to test, he will barely miss the minimum 17-year-old age requirement needed to compete in the upcoming race at Pocono. However, Lira turns 17 in July, which means that when the series returns to the “Tricky Triangle” in August, he will be old enough to compete. Therefore, the experience that Lira gains from the June 4th test session will be crucial to his success in August.
“We recognize that our sport is generating a greater number of younger drivers with a broader base of experience,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “Effective in 2013, we’ve worked with Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway to adjust the minimum age to participate at tracks over a mile in length from 18 to 17 at those facilities. It effectively provides an opportunity for pre-qualified 17-year-old drivers to participate in ARCA Racing Series races at those tracks. The approval process is detailed and stringent, but by virtue of the number of ARCA Racing Series races they have driven in and their participation in the ARCA Open Test at Pocono, Weber, Tift and Lira have earned the opportunity to participate. We expect that more drivers will work toward that eligibility going forward.”
On-track activity for the Pocono ARCA 200 includes one practice session on Friday, June 6, from 10:00-11:50 a.m., with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 2:30.
The Pocono ARCA 200 is live on FOX Sports 1 Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
In addition to live coverage on FOX 1, ARCAracing.com will feature live timing and scoring of all the ARCA on-track activities.
For more information on Michael Lira, visit www.michaelliraracing.com or follow him on Twitter at @LiraRacing and Facebook at /MichaelLiraRacingOfficial.