Date: Sept. 6, 2020
Event: South Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Race 15 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Darlington (S.C) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 45 laps/45 laps/62 laps
Start/Finish: 6th/6th (Running, completed 152 of 152 laps)
Winner: Ben Rhodes of ThorSport Racing (Ford)
Making his first career start at Darlington Raceway, Raphael Lessard brought the No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra home in the sixth position and picked up his fourth top-10 in the last five races.
Stage One Recap:
- Lessard started in the sixth 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.
- Under the first caution of the day on Lap 6, the rookie driver was running fourth and radioed to his crew that his Mobil 1 Tundra was “sliding around.” Veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. kept his rookie on the racetrack. The team would restart fourth, and on the choose lap, the rookie driver lined up in the third row on the outside lane.
- During the competition caution on Lap 20, the rookie driver radioed to his crew that he was still learning the racetrack. Hillman summoned his driver to pit road and the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop. The rookie driver would exit pit road 10th, and on the choose lap, he would line up in the fourth row on the bottom lane.
- Lessard would finish the first stage in the eighth position to score three stage points.
Stage Two Recap:
- At the stage break, Lessard was summoned down pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. The rookie driver came off pit road in the fifth position. On the choose lap, the 19-year-old driver lined up in the fourth row on the top lane.
- In the middle of the run, Lessard radioed to his crew that his Toyota Tundra needed “more rear grip.”
- Lessard would finish the second stage in the sixth position to garner five stage points.
- During the stage caution, Lessard was called to pit road for four tires and fuel. He would roll off the pit lane in the third position. On the choose lap, he lined up in the second row on the top lane.
- At the fifth caution on Lap 104, Lessard radioed to his crew that his Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra was “tight in the center of both corners” and that the “truck won’t go on restarts.” The rookie driver stayed out and would restart in the fourth position.
- At the sixth caution on Lap 124, Lessard radioed to his crew from the ninth position that his Mobil 1 Tundra was “wrecking loose.” He was called to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop. He would restart as the fifth driver on the top lane.
- When the seventh caution flew on Lap 146, Lessard was in the sixth position when he radioed that he was loose and doing everything he could to pass Christian Eckes for position. In a strategy call, Hillman called his rookie driver down pit lane for four tires and fuel. Before going green at the first and only attempt at NASCAR Overtime, the Canadian driver was told to go all out.
- Lessard would gain eight positions to finish sixth.
Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Four top-10 finishes in the last five races. How was your race?
“We had a really good truck. I was just learning the racetrack the first few laps. I feel like I picked up the racetrack really good. The TRD simulator helped me a ton for that. It was just like I had already been there before. We were really good at the beginning, running in the top-five. We were fighting a little bit too loose most of the race, but we got it pretty good at the end. I was pretty conservative with my line, not running too close to the wall most of the day. At the end, I just started going right around as close as I could get to the fence. I found a lot of speed there. I should have done that before, but oh well. Overall, we gambled on the last caution by pitting. We didn’t gain anything, because we were p6, and then we came out p16, and we ended up p6. Really close to a shot at winning the race I feel like with our strategy, we just needed a little bit more left, but overall, we are getting really good. We are getting better every week, and the goal is to go win at Richmond next week to be able to be in the Playoffs. I just can’t thank everyone at Mobil1, CANAC, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota and TRD for everything they do. We are getting there. It’s fun to see that we are running some good races.”
South Carolina Education Lottery 200 Recap:
- Ben Rhodes picked up his first victory of 2020 beating Derek Kraus by 0.785 seconds. Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger and Christian Eckes rounded out the top-five.
- The race featured seven cautions for a total of 35 laps. There were 11 lead changes among five drivers.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished fifth.
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 23rd.
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
After 15 events, Lessard sits 12th in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series point standings. He faces a must-win situation in the final regular season race on Thursday at Richmond in order to make the Playoffs.
Lessard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Live coverage of the ToyotaCare 250 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 8 p.m. ET.