Sixteen-year-old Spruce Creek High School student and race car driver Michael Lira will be heading to Talladega Superspeedway this week to participate in two days of test sessions with the ARCA Racing Series. It will be Lira’s first time running on the legendary Alabama race track and only his second time on a superspeedway. Lira’s previous superspeedway experience came last December, when he tested at Daytona International Speedway in his ARCA car.
“There will definitely be a ton of Talladega Nights references this week, as there were in Daytona,” Lira joked. “The Kimmel Racing guys and I get along well and we always have fun. I’m sure Talladega will be similar to Daytona, but I’ve heard there are a few differences. I’m looking forward to getting more superspeedway experience. It’s hard to get track time at those big tracks.”
Lira is coming off a strong top-10 finish in the ARCA Mobile 200. The event was his first race of the 2014 ARCA season, as well as his first career start at Mobile International Speedway.
“I’m really proud of the top-10 that we scored at Mobile,” Lira said. “Getting off to a strong start is important for the team’s confidence going forward. The atmosphere and the fans were great there, too. Mobile is definitely one of my new favorite events on the calendar.”
There will be many more firsts for Lira as the 2014 season continues to unfold. This is the young driver’s first real season in the ARCA Racing Series and most of the tracks on the circuit will be new to him. He will race a variety of different tracks, from ARCA short-track staples Lucas Oil Raceway to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series mainstays like Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway. He will also face two dirt tracks and the New Jersey Motorsports Park road course.
Lira’s ARCA Racing Series career officially began in 2013 when he ran four races in the series, but this year he is slotted to run a total of 14 races with Kimmel Racing. Because of series rules, Lira’s age exempts him from running races on some of the larger tracks, which is why these test sessions on the superspeedways are so important.
“Testing at Daytona was a huge learning experience for me,” Lira said. “I’m expecting the same at Talladega. These testing opportunities are important to take advantage of, because, once I turn 18 and I’m able to run races on these superspeedways, I’ll have some experience under my belt.”
After the Talladega test sessions, the next event on Lira’s schedule is the Federated Auto Parts ARCA 200 Presented by “Crunch ‘N Nutter” at Salem Speedway. Lira ran at Salem Speedway last year and was running in second place towards the end of the race before a pit road penalty dropped him back. He fought back to earn a strong seventh-place finish. Lira will look to carry that experience forward as he heads to Salem this year. The Federated Auto Parts ARCA 200 race weekend is scheduled for April 26 – 27.