(PRWEB) April 21, 2014
Michael Lira, the sixteen-year-old race car driver from Port Orange, Florida, continues to attract attention in the motorsports world. Last week, the Spruce Creek High School student completed two full days of testing at the legendary Talladega Superspeedway with the ARCA Racing Series. It was Lira’s first time on the historic Alabama race track and he posted some of the best laps of the week.
“Since I’ve already run at Daytona, it came pretty naturally to me here,” Lira said. “The tri-oval is kind of tricky. It’s a weird line that you have to take through there. It only took me about two laps to run wide-open all the way around the track though. It was like muscle memory from Daytona, so I felt comfortable out there pretty quickly.”
On the first day of testing, Lira’s No. 68 Gary Yeomans Ford Ford Fusion cracked the top 10 in the morning speed charts with a top speed of 178.205 mph and a lap time of 53.736 seconds. The lap was good enough for ninth place overall, but he would improve upon that later in the day. The start of the afternoon session was marked by near-disaster, when Lira’s left-rear tire blew up and sent his car spinning in the middle of Turn 4. Luckily, Lira felt the tire going down and was able to brace for the blowout. Some smart handling by the rookie kept the car out of the wall and avoided sending the whole team home early.
“Going into the middle of Turn 4, it started vibrating really bad and slowed down,” Lira said. “By the time the tire blew coming off the turn, I was really on my toes and ready for something bad to happen. I tried to control it as much as I could, turned the wheel to the right and hoped it stayed off the wall, but you don’t have much control at 180 mph. It’s the first time that I’ve had a tire go down, so I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I was ready for something big.”
Thanks to Lira’s quick reactions behind the wheel, the only damage to the No. 68 car was minor body damage to the left-rear quarter panel from where the tire exploded. The Kimmel Racing crew quickly went to work in the garage. They straightened out the left-rear quarter panel, replaced the side skirts and put on four fresh tires. The repairs were complete within minutes and Lira was back in the car.
With the nerves of the spin in his rearview mirror, Lira went back out and turned his strongest laps of the day. His best lap time of 53.428 seconds, with a top speed of 182.650 mph, bumped him up to 6th position in the final afternoon speed charts. He also gained some valuable drafting experience.
“I got to run some really good laps and got a good feel for the track,” Lira said. “I got to draft a little, and I even saved the car in a spin. As far as a learning experience, I’d say Day 1 gave me everything I could handle.”
With a whole day of track time already under his belt, Lira entered the morning of Day 2 full of confidence, and it showed. Lira completed a best lap of 53.188 seconds, with a top speed of 180.041 mph, which was the best single-car lap of the day. Satisfied with the car’s performance in the morning session, Michael Lira and the Kimmel Racing crew loaded up the hauler and closed the book on a very successful two days of testing at Talladega Superspeedway.
Lira’s next stop on the ARCA Racing Series schedule is the super-speedy Salem Speedway for the Federated Auto Parts ARCA 200 Presented by “Crunch ‘N Nutter.” Salem Speedway is a unique track built strictly for speed. The historic .555-mile oval features steep 33-degree banks, infamously known as the “hills.” Racing legend A.J. Foyt once said, “if a driver can go fast on the high banks (of Salem), he can go fast anywhere.” In recent years, some of NASCAR’s biggest names have tested their metal at Salem, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano.
Lira has all of the momentum on his side at the moment. In his first ARCA event of the year, the ARCA Mobile 200 in Mobile, Alabama, the young racer posted a strong top-10 finish in his first career start at Mobile International Speedway. In addition, Lira scored a Pro-Late Model victory this past Saturday at New Smyrna Speedway, in which he led all 25 laps of the event.
“The win at New Smyrna was a big confidence boost,” Lira said. “My only weakness from the race a week earlier was my restarts. We ran very well in the long runs. I’d been losing sleep over those restarts all week, and this time around they were much better. I had good restarts all race and it really allowed us to run away with it. My crew gave me a great car. I just had to hold up my end of the bargain and get the job done. I feel like I’m on a roll right now. Salem can’t get here soon enough.”
Lira heads to Salem Speedway with some past experience at the notorious short-track, having raced there in the ARCA Racing Series last year and finished seventh. Lira will look to carry that experience forward into this year’s race for an even better result. The Federated Auto Parts ARCA 200 race weekend is scheduled for April 26 – 27.
For the latest news and information about Michael Lira, visit http://www.MichaelLiraRacing.com and follow him on Twitter at @1MichaelLira and @LiraRacing.
PR contact: Mike McLatchey, mmclatchey(at)anthemmotorsports(dot)com