Date: Feb. 14, 2020
Event: NextEra 250 (Race 1 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile superspeedway)
Format: Three Segments; 20 laps/20 laps/60 laps
Start/Finish: 8th/20th (Running, completed 105 of 106 laps)
Winner: Grant Enfinger of ThorSport Racing (Ford)
After rain delayed the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, Raphael Lessard finished 20th, despite a strong run in the No. 4 JBL Tundra. In the final stage, the young driver was running near the front of the pack when he got loose and nearly spun, but was able to save it. Then the No. 4 was caught in the late race chaos and sustained damage, relegating him to a 20th-place finish.
In two practice sessions on Thursday, Lessard turned his very first laps at the World Center of Racing, and posted the 25th-fastest and ninth-fastest laps. On Friday afternoon, Lessard earned the eighth starting spot during one lap of qualifying.
Lessard ran in the top-10 for most of the event, but with less than 10 laps to go, lost control of his Tundra in the pack, but made a great save. Then as the field came to the checkered flag, another wreck collected the No. 4 and after repairs, Lessard finished 20th.
Stage One Recap:
- Lessard earned the eighth starting spot in one lap of single vehicle qualifying on Friday afternoon. He ran a lap of 49.915 seconds and 180.307 mph.
- In the opening laps, Lessard reported that his truck was good, but he was still learning the draft.
- Under the first caution on lap 17, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called the young driver to pit road for fuel only.
- After pitting, Lessard finished ninth in the stage.
- Following the first stage, Hillman Jr. kept Lessard on the track, choosing not to pit since they had come to pit road three laps before.
Stage Two Recap:
- Lessard started the second stage on the outside of the front row.
- Despite being shuffled back in the short second stage, Lessard was able to finish sixth.
- Following the conclusion of Stage 2, Hillman Jr. brought the Canadian driver to pit road for four tires and fuel.
Stage Three Recap:
- Lessard began the final stage in seventh and moved to second in line in the bottom line for most of the final stage, before getting loose in the pack with five laps to go. The rookie driver was able to make an impressive save in the No. 4 Tundra, coming to pit road for tires.
- A lap or two later, the Big One struck, and Lessard sustained damage to the left front fender, which the team attempted to repair.
- As the race went into overtime, Lessard was able to bring the No. 4 home in the 20th position.
Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about your race.
“We had a really good race. I feel like my JBL Tundra was one of the best out there. I could help anyone out there when I was second in line. I could get them to the lead pretty easy. It seemed like as soon as I would get someone to the lead and be by myself, the first one in line, nobody would help me. I guess it’s part of being a rookie, but it is what it is. I feel like we did a heck of a job. We ran in the lead pack the whole race and had some stage points until the last stage. We were right there for third or second place, I think, the top-three, I feel like. I did a heck of a save when we could have totaled the truck. It is what it is and I can’t thank everyone enough at JBL, Toyota, Kyle Busch Motorsports, (crew chief) Mike Hillman Jr., and my spotter Tony Raines. We’ll move on Las Vegas and get better.
NextEra 250 Recap:
- Grant Enfinger won the race, followed by Jordan Anderson, Codie Rohrbaugh, Derek Kraus and Natalie Decker.
- The race featured five cautions for 26 laps and 15 lead changes among seven drivers.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra, finished 22nd
Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, finished 12th
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
Raphael Lessard is ranked 20th, 29 points behind the leader in NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series standings with one race in the books.
Next week, Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 Mobil 1 team will head to Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway for the Strat 200, which will begin at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 21 on FS1.