Michael Lira returns to familiar territory this weekend, as the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads to Berlin Raceway, the site of Lira’s first career ARCA start. The seventeen-year-old Kimmel Racing rookie finished 12th in his series debut at Berlin in 2013, and now returns with a fresh sense of confidence and a wealth of new experience.
“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable returning to a track I’ve already raced on,” Lira said. “In the beginning, figuring out Berlin was tough, but in the end, I came to like it a lot.”
This season has been a practice in learning on the fly for Lira, with the majority of the races taking place at tracks that he has never even seen before, let alone raced on. Despite the challenge, Lira has managed to score three top-10 finishes already this season, including an unforgettable top-10 performance at Pocono Raceway. Heading back to a familiar track, Lira has a great chance to add another quality finish to his résumé. The experience that he gained from last year’s race should give him an advantage.
“It took me most of the race to figure it out, but the biggest thing I learned about Berlin was how to use the aprons in the corners,” Lira said. “You’ve got to use the aprons coming off the turns to get a straight shot down the straightaways. If you’re still turning down the straightaways, you’re too loose, and it kills your run. We got the chance to test there last year. I was having handling issues. So we actually put a plate on it and it fixed my handling issues. It felt completely different, but a lot better.”
Lira’s confidence is at an all-time high at the moment after he surprised everyone with a fourth-place qualifying run in his Pocono Raceway debut and followed it up with a top-10 finish in the ModSpace 125 the same night. The impressive superspeedway debut marked a special moment in Lira’s career, but the challenge that he will face at Berlin Raceway presents a unique test for the rookie as well.
“You go from using not a lot of brakes and a lot of gas (at Pocono) to not a lot of gas and a lot of brakes (at Berlin),” Lira said. “It’s completely the opposite, but that’s what makes ARCA so interesting and fun. I’ve done a lot of racing like this (on short tracks), so I’ll be comfortable going to Berlin, nothing like Pocono.”
The 88-mile Federated Auto Parts 200 at Berlin Raceway is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 9, 2014.
For more on Michael Lira visit MichaelLiraRacing.com and follow him on Twitter at @LiraRacing and @1MichaelLira.