Early Misfortunes for Teammates Expire Chances of Winning the Lucas Oil 200
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA (February 14, 2016) — Lira Motorsports and the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway had its moments during its ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards appearance over the weekend. From unloading on Wednesday, the team proved they were fast but misfortunes had other plans for the team.
During the first practice session on Thursday, Gray Gaulding and Kyle Weatherman took to the top of the speed chart within seconds of hitting the high banks. Brandon Lynn and Jairo Avila (J.A. Junior) began working on adjustments following their runs to help their Fords in the draft. As each driver adjusted to their Lira Motorsports Ford Fusion, they showed solid efforts as a team in Friday mornings final practice. As practice came to a close, the engine expired under the hood of Weatherman’s Ford Fusion. The crew got to work immediately replacing the engine, but was unable to make the cut-off for his group qualifying efforts. As a result, Weatherman was forced to start from the rear of the field. Teammates Lynn, Gaulding, and Avila were able to complete their qualifying efforts flawlessly starting the Lucas Oil 200 from mid-pack.
After crossing the stripe, only one lap in the Lucas Oil 200, a nine-car pile up on the front stretch brought out the first caution of the day. Series officials brought out the red flag just moments after throwing the yellow, bringing the 31 car field to a halt on the backstretch for a number of minutes. Kyle successfully maneuvered his way through the mayhem without receiving any damage.
“With the incident on lap 2, I definitely had to keep my eyes open for the rest of the race,” Kyle Weatherman said. “Luckily there was only one more wreck for the rest of the day. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and for us starting in the back allowed us to miss that wreck.”
For the double duty driver, J.A. Junior, the mayhem expired any chances he had of putting the No.59 Ford in victory lane.
“We had a lot of fun out there,” said J.A. Junior. “During the first lap out there, I thought we had something after the team made some adjustments over night. I just want to thank everyone at Lira Motorsports for giving me the opportunity and a great car. Getting Involved in that wreck should have never happened.”
On lap 17, Series officials flew the yellow flag once again, for a three car pile up on the backstretch. All three Lira Motorsports Crew Chiefs elected to bring their drivers down the pit lane for a fuel only stop. This strategy would force each team to return to the pit lane at least one more time before the end of the race. By lap 26, Gray had moved himself comfortably into the seventh position with teammate, Kyle Weatherman following suit in the draft. Lynn was tucked up behind an ARCA Series competitor on the inside line from the 13th position and moving forward. As the field returned to the green with 36 laps to go, Kyle Weatherman jumped to the outside line and followed the No. 55 of William Byron to the front of the pack in the high line, and slowly worked his way back down to the bottom groove where he comfortably brought the No. 58 Fresh Water, St. Charles Glass and Glazing Ford Fusion home in the third position.
Under the last stop, Gaulding had a minor issue on pit road causing him to loose a few positions. He found himself restarting the No. 38 Krispy Kreme Ford with 32 laps to go from the 15th position. By lap 55, Gaulding found began flirting with a top-10 spot for a number of laps. In his ARCA Racing and Superspeedway debut, Gray accomplished a ninth place finish to start out the 2016 season.
Lynn and Crew Chief, Bryan Quanz worked strategically to get his No. 36 Cribs Creek Outfitters Fusion in the top-10 all day. The car underwent a complete over haul before practice on Friday morning. Lynn fought for a 16th finishing spot in his Superspeedway debut with Lira Motorsports.
“We had a really good car mid way through the race but had an incident on pit road that took us out of contention,” said Brandon Lynn. “All of my guys worked really hard this weekend. I have to thank them, my Crew Chief, Bryan Quanz, and my spotter Derek Kneeland who did a great job from up top. We want to win and get some good finishes and I know they will come soon.”
The next stop on the ARCA Racing Series tour will be at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on April 9 for the Nashville ARCA 200.