After racing his number 58 Gary Yeomans Ford / TraqGear / AttorneyAtLaw Fusion inside the top five early in the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem Speedway, Michael Lira fell back to 11th at the checkered flag, just one spot short of finishing in the top ten for the third consecutive race in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
With rain forcing the cancellation of two practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday, drivers were given a 30 minute practice session on Sunday morning. Michael’s comfort level on the high-banked 1/2 mile, one of his favorite tracks on the circuit, helped him get up to speed quickly. He ended the short session at third quickest overall.
Since Lira Motorsports is new to the series this year, Michael took the green flag for the race from the 24th position, with the starting grid for the race having been set by 2014 car owner points. He raced his way inside the top ten before lap 20, running as high as 4th at one point before the 50 lap mark.
He remained inside the top ten for the majority of the race, only dropping back to 11th initially for a few laps just past half-way during pit stops. He was back up to 7th place by lap 140 before going for a spin in turn one on lap 168 while working through lapped traffic.
Battling a tight race car for the rest of the race, Michael bounced off the wall in turn three and four on lap 176, and had fallen back to 12th by lap 185. He recovered to 11th as the checkered flag fell.
“It was a great feeling to race from the back to the front in a matter of laps early in the race, and I know that’s a good sign for our young team as we go forward into the rest of the season,” Michael stated. “Today ended up being a long, frustrating race. Placing 11th with a car capable of running in the top five doesn’t cut it. I’ll be back in the car at Toledo, where I’ve finished in the top ten before, so I’m hoping I can get this car back up front where it belongs there.”
Despite Michael’s frustrations, his finish was in front of at least six cars ahead of him in the driver points standings, and should result in him gaining a few spots. However, he will be out of the car at Talladega, as he is still a few months away from his 18th birthday.
“I really wish I could run Talladega! We were able to get Cole Powell to drive in my place though, so we can keep the number 58 moving up in the owner points standings. The car our team has built for Cole is going to be fast, and I think he will race well with my teammate David Levine, and hopefully they both get great finishes.” Michael continued, “I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my IMSA Continential Tire SportsCar Challenge Series Ford Mustang at Laguna Seca while the ARCA Series is in Talladega, so that will definitely take my mind off not being there with my ARCA Racing team.”
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.