Michael Lira, the seventeen-year-old Spruce Creek High School student from Port Orange, Florida, and professional race car driver in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, finished 12th in his first career start at Lucas Oil Raceway.
After an 18th-place qualifying run Friday afternoon, Lira lined up in row nine for the SCOTT Get Geared Up 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
“This weekend was a great learning experience,” Lira said. “We made a lot of improvements on the car after qualifying, and I felt confident that I could move up and make some passes once the race got underway.”
Lira battled hard in the No. 69 Gary Yeomans Ford Fusion as he learned the layout of the 0.686-mile asphalt oval, moving up from 18th place and threatening to break into the top 10.
“The team did a great job making improvements on the car as the race went on,” Lira said. “I think by the end of the race, we really had it figured out. We definitely had a top-10 car at the end there, but unfortunately we didn’t have the track position or the time to take advantage of it.”
Lira brought the Kimmel Racing Ford home in 12th place, an impressive result for a driver who had never even seen Lucas Oil Raceway prior to the race weekend.
The next stop on Lira’s ARCA Racing Series schedule is an exciting one. The young racer heads to Pocono Raceway to make his first career start on “The Tricky Triangle.” The 2.5-mile triangular raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania,
will be the longest track that Lira has competed on in his career.
Lira tested at Pocono Raceway earlier this season, but his age at the time restricted him from racing in the ARCA season’s first Pocono event. However, as the ARCA Racing Series returns to Pocono Raceway for the track’s second ARCA event of the season, Lira, who turned seventeen this July, now meets the minimum age requirement to race.
“I am very excited for the Pocono race,” Lira said. “Even just testing there was both nerve-racking and incredibly exciting. I learned a lot from that test that I think will help me during the race, and I’m feeling confident. With most of the tracks that I’ve faced this year, I haven’t had the luxury of testing at them first. All of the learning has had to happen the weekend of the race during qualifying and practice, so I’m looking forward to racing at a track that I’ve tested at a little bit.”
In addition to testing at Pocono Raceway this season, Lira has also tested at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
The ARCA Racing Series ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway is scheduled for August 1, 2014, at 5:15 p.m. EDT.
Follow Michael Lira on Twitter at @LiraRacing and @1MichaelLira and on Facebook at /MichaelLiraRacingOfficial.