Press Release prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Raphael Lessard, a 19-year-old Canadian driver, captured his first career NGROTS victory in Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway narrowly edging former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne when the caution flew after a truck accident occurred on the final lap of the event. Raphael Lessard became the fifth foreign-born driver to win a NGROTS race.
This was Raphael Lessard’s first victory and fifth top-10 finish of the 2020 season. The rookie driver currently sits 12th in points.
Stage One Recap:
- Raphael Lessard started in the 15th position after a performance matrix based off finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.
- When the first caution flew on Lap 14, Raphael Lessard was in the 11th position. Veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called his rookie driver down pit road for a fuel-only stop. The rookie driver would restart in the 23rd position.
- Raphael Lessard would finish the stage in the 14th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- At the stage break, Raphael Lessard radioed to his crew he was ready to make some moves on the racetrack. Hillman kept the CANAC Tundra on the racetrack. Raphael Lessard would restart from the second position.
- The second stage would finish under the caution, and Raphael Lessard was scored in the 12th position.
- During the stage caution, Raphael Lessard radioed to his crew that his CANAC Tundra needed more stability in the rear. As the leaders pitted, Hillman kept his driver on the racetrack to pit on the next lap to avoid possibly getting wrecked on pit road. The over-the-wall crew performed a four-tire and fuel stop. The rookie driver came back down pit road with one lap remaining under the caution to top off with fuel. Lessard would restart in the 25th position.
- With the fourth caution falling on Lap 49, Raphael Lessard was scored in the 22nd position. Raphael Lessard came down under the caution for fuel but was caught speeding on pit road. Like the last caution, Raphael Lessard came back down pit road with one lap remaining until the green to top off with fuel. The CANAC driver would restart at the tail of the field.
- On Lap 66, Raphael Lessard was summoned to pit road under green-flag conditions for a fuel-only stop.
- At the fifth and final caution on Lap 90, Raphael Lessard was scored in the third position and was told to stay out.
- As the field began wrecking down the backstretch, Raphael Lessard was running in the second position. By the time NASCAR threw the caution for the accident, Raphael Lessard had maneuvered the CANAC Tundra one-half a truck ahead of Trevor Bayne to earn his first career victory in the Gander Trucks.
Raphael Raphael Lessard , driver of the No. 4 CANAC Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports
How does it feel to get your first Truck Series win?
“That was awesome. First of all, I want to thank everyone back home, my team at Kyle Busch Motorsports. CANAC came on board with us this year. Also, Mobil 1, Toyota, TRD – this is amazing, I can’t believe it. It’s my second superspeedway race and to get my first truck series win here is amazing.”
What was the final lap like, and did you think you had won the race?
“I don’t know who was behind me, but he gave me a heck of a push and I can’t thank him enough because he’s part of that win too. He pushed me as hard as he could, and I was just holding on for the ride. Then the caution came out at the right time. I’m so happy. This was my first time doing a burnout from a race win and I loved it. Hopefully, we can do it some more.”
How were you able to get into position to win the race?
“All race long, my crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. gave me the best strategy ever. I was kind of getting tired riding out back. My teammates and I worked really well – Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith. I was just getting tired of it and I guess I listened to my crew chief, my team and I think we won it from listening to what my crew chief was telling me. At the end, we were in position to win it and all I was doing was trying to hold it straight and the guy behind me pushed me as much as he could.”
Did you feel you were ahead of Trevor Bayne when the caution came out?
“I thought I was close, but I was just focused in case we had another restart. In my head, it wasn’t done yet. We didn’t get to the start-finish line yet, so I thought it was going to be a green-white-checkered, but it didn’t happen, and we ended up winning.”