Jairo Avila, Jr. took the next step up the ladder in his racing career on Saturday, making his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut in the ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway. Despite not having any practice time on the “Tricky Triangle”, the twenty-year old California driver raced to a solid 16th place finish.
Pocono’s unique, three-turn layout is a challenge for any driver. For Jairo, or JA Junior as he is better known, the whole race was a learning experience, as the first laps of the race were his first full laps on the track.
In his first time in an event at a track longer than one mile, a clutch issue at the beginning of practice on Friday took away JA Junior’s opportunity at turning any laps during the session. His qualifying attempt was his first time entering turn one at speed from the 3,740 foot long frontstretch. He entered the turn too fast, hitting the outside retaining wall in the middle of turn one. He was unable to complete the lap.
After qualifying, JA Junior stated: “Couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity given to me this weekend. Thank you to Lira Motorsports, as well as the ARCA Racing Series itself. Not what I had in mind in qualifying, but we’ll start in the back and work our way up. I can’t thank the crew enough for their hard work!”
With repairs made to the car after qualifying, JA Junior went to the back of the field, 31st position, for the start of race. Once the green flag fell, the rookie driver put all of his bad luck behind him, and drove a clean race. He took the checkered flag without a scratch on the car, having avoided any on-track incidents, as well as the retaining walls, for the 50 lap event. He had climbed 15 positions from his starting spot to collect his 16th place finish.
“Learned a ton, had some ups and downs, but at the end got a solid result,” Avila said after the race. “I messed up qualifying and could have been way better off, but it is what it is, and we finished 16th. I hope to get the opportunity to do it again soon. Thank you to Lira Motorsports, my dad, and everyone that’s helped me get to where I am today. Thank you also to everyone for all of the encouragement through awesome text messages and social media… It really made my weekend!”
Find out more about JA Junior on his website at www.jajunior56thebullet.com. You can also connect with him on Facebook (Ja Junior) and on Twitter at @teamjajunior.