Date: May 3, 2019
Event: JEGS 200 (Race 6 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (One-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 45 laps/45 laps/110 laps
Start/Finish: 7th/11th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of ThorSport Racing (Ford)
Making just his second career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start, 17-year-old Canadian driver Raphael Lessard put together another solid outing in Friday’s JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway as he narrowly missed posting his first top-10 finish. Lessard restarted from the 10th spot with five laps remaining, but surrendered one position in the closing laps and crossed the stripe with a respectable 11th-place finish.
Friday’s result was an improvement of three spots from his 14th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in his Gander Trucks debut. Despite having never turned a lap in any series at the challenging concrete circuit, aptly named the Monster Mile, before Thursday’s practice session Lessard turned heads when he was fastest in opening practice and followed it up by finishing sixth in final practice. In Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, the talented teenager continued the momentum when he posted the fastest lap of the four Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) entered in the race and earned the seventh starting spot.
Lessard will be back in the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra Aug. 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for his final scheduled Gander Trucks start of 2019.
Stage One Recap:
- Lessard started the 200-lap event from the seventh position in the outside lane and after the field took the green flag settled into the sixth position for the first 28 laps. KBM teammate Harrison moved around Lessard on lap 29 as the driver of the Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra communicated to his crew that his Toyota was “too tight everywhere.”
- As the opening stage came to a close, Lessard surrendered two more positions and ended Stage One in the ninth position.
Stage Two Recap:
- Lessard communicated to crew chief Michael Shelton that his Tundra was “too tight everywhere” before hitting pit road. After Lessard slid to a stop just outside the pit boundary, the over-the-wall crew had to push the truck back before executing a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment in an effort to improve the handling.
- The Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra was scored in the 14th position when Stage Two went green on lap 54. Over the course of the second stage, the handling continued to be “too tight” and Lessard crossed the stripe 15th at the completion of the segment on lap 90.
Final Stage Recap:
- Lessard reiterated that his Toyota was still “too tight,” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a substantial trackbar adjustment. The No. 46 Toyota was scored in the 14th position when the Final Stage went green on lap 98.
- Reporting that the handling of his Tundra was a little better to start the stage, the talented teenager was able to quickly gain two spots and settled into the 12th position. He had gained one more position and was running 11th when the field was slowed for the fourth time with 45 laps remaining.
- Before hitting pit road for the final time, Lessard report that his Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra once again had migrated to the tight side.
- After getting four fresh tires and full tank of fuel, Lessard was scored in the 11th spot when the field went back green with 41 laps remaining.
- Lessard was running 11th with 25 laps remaining, but advanced one position with 20 laps remaining and he was fighting hard to earn his first top-10 finish. In the closing laps he would fall back to 11th, his best result of his two starts this season.
Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra for KBM:
How did your race go today?
“I think it went pretty well. Qualified well – qualified seventh. During the race it was just going to be a learning curve for me. I was in school — it was like my first day learning how to write it seems like, but I’m pretty happy for my first time here. We got my truck better in the race, but I was just fighting tight all race and when I would get behind another truck it would just get too tight. I got better and I learned a lot. I can’t thank everyone at Spectra Premium, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Toyota enough for the opportunity.”
JEGS 200 Recap:
- Johnny Sauter collected the 24thwin of his Gander Trucks career. Brett Moffitt finished 0.603 seconds behind Sauter in the runner-up spot. Harrison Burton, Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured six cautions for a total of 35 laps. There were 11 lead changes among six drivers.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished third
- Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 13th
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 15th
Riley Herbst will be behind the wheel of the No. 46 Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts Tundra when the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series resumes action May 10 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Live coverage of the Digital-Ally 200 begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
Lessard’s final Gander Trucks race scheduled for 2019 in the No. 46 Spectra Premium Tundra will be Aug. 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.