Date: July 18, 2020
Event: Vankor 350 (Race 8 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 40 laps/40 laps/86 laps
Start/Finish: 6th/12th (Running, completed 166 of 167 laps)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Raphael Lessard made his way as far up as the sixth position and ultimately finished 12th in Saturday’s night’s Vankor 350 at Texas Motor Speedway after starting the day from the 16th position.
Stage One Recap:
- Lessard started in the 16th position after a random draw in tiers based on the 2020 Gander Trucks owner’s points. The opening stage would stay under green flag conditions for 40 laps. During the run Lessard was told to try to carry more speed into Turn One.
- Lessard would finish Stage One in the 13th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- Before the start of Stage Two, Lessard radioed to his crew that his JBL Toyota Tundra was tight from the center of the corner to the exit, while also mentioning the difficulty of passing. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called the 19-year-old driver down pit lane and the over-the-wall crew administered a four tire and fuel stop. After the stop, Lessard was told to continue to work on his entry into Turn One but to be smart about it. He would restart from the ninth position.
- When the second caution of the night fell on Lap 63, Lessard was running in the 10th position. He mentioned that he was too loose through the center then tight coming off Turns One and Two, while he was hitting the splitter or side skirt in Turns Three and Four. Hillman kept the rookie driver on the racetrack when pit road was open due to the tire allotment for the event. Lessard’s spotter told him to work on his positioning in the turns. He would restart from the ninth position.
- During the third caution of the night on Lap 76, Lessard radioed to his crew that he was free in traffic especially in Turns One and Two. Hillman Jr. called the rookie driver down pit road and the over-the-wall crew administered a pit stop of four tires, fuel and adjustments. Lessard would restart in the 16th position.
- The race went back green on Lap 78. Lessard would finish the stage in the 12th position.
- During the caution, Lessard was asked to save fuel under the caution as the team would pit one more time for the night. Lessard would restart in the sixth position
- On Lap 119, Lessard radioed to the crew that he was beginning to experience a right-front tire vibration and that his Toyota Tundra was tight off Turn Two, On Lap 125, Lessard dived down the pit lane under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel. When green flag pit stops cycled, Lessard was scored in the 14th position.
- When the fifth and final caution of the night flew on Lap 154, Lessard radioed that he was good on the bottom of Turns One and Two, tight on exit in Turn Two, and tight overall in Turns Three and Four. He would restart in the 11th position.
- Lessard would finish the day at Texas Motor Speedway in the 12th position.
Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports: “The race is over. It was a long, tough night. I just couldn’t get the right feel in (Turns) One and Two. I feel like my team worked really hard on my JBL Toyota Tundra to try get it better and improve on it to, which we did by ourselves after we pitted under green. I felt like we had some good speed, but just couldn’t be good enough in traffic and running the outside line especially. We will try to get better. We will go onto Kansas for the doubleheaders there. I feel like it is going to be good for me because I’m going to get more laps in.” Vankor 350 Recap:
- Kyle Busch picked up his 59th career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series victory and his third win of 2020. Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen and Brett Moffitt rounded out the top-five.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 26 laps. There were 15 lead changes among seven drivers.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished first.
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished second
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
After eight events, Lessard ranks 15th in the Gander Trucks championship standings. The rookie of the year candidate sits 132 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill.
Lessard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25 at Kansas Speedway for an unprecedented doubleheader event. Coverage begins Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m. ET, while coverage begins Saturday, July 25 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM.