Talented Canadian Recovers for 12th-Place Finish After Getting Spun Late at Bristol
Date: Aug. 15, 2019
Event: UNOH 200 (Race 17 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (0.533-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 55 laps/55 laps/90 laps
Start/Finish: 16th/12th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winner: Brett Moffitt of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Making his third and final NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start of the season for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), Raphael Lessard had the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra in position for a top-five finish late in the UNOH 200 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, but contact from the No. 45 truck sent him spinning with 25 laps remaining. After getting his Toyota going in the right direction, Lessard was forced to hit pit road for a set of scuffed tires under caution. The talented Canadian teenager restarted 19th with 22 laps remaining, but was able to maneuver his way forward in the closing laps and ended the night with a 12th-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Lessard started the 200-lap event from the 16th position after experiencing a loose handling Tundra in Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session.
- In the early stages of the race, the young driver continued to report that his No. 46 Toyota was “too loose” and fell back to the 19th position on lap 20. As the field began to spread out, his truck came to life and he began to make his way back forward. When the field crossed the stripe to end Stage One on lap 55, he was scored in the 15th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- In an effort to improve track position for his young driver, veteran crew chief Marcus Richmond elected not to pit between stages.
- The Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra was scored in the eighth position when Stage Two went green on lap 67. With the inside lane being preferred, Lessard got shuffled back to the 10th position before a quick caution slowed the field.
- On the ensuing restart, the Canadian driver was able to gain one spot before a two-truck accident slowed the field for the fourth time just two laps later.
- With one truck ahead of him hitting pit road, the Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra moved up one position to eighth for the lap-79 restart.
- Lessard was able to maintain the eighth position and would remain there when Stage Two came to completion on lap 110.
Final Stage Recap:
- Lessard communicated that his Toyota was still “loose off,” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. The No. 46 Toyota was scored in the 11th position when the Final Stage went green on lap 121.
- After a strong restart, the talented teenager was able to make maneuver his way up to seventh, where he was scored when the field was slowed for the sixth time on lap 130.
- Lessard maintained the seventh spot on the ensuing restart, before another caution occurred, and then gained three positions on the lap-142 restart. He had maintained the fourth position when a two-truck accident occurred with 50 laps remaining.
- The No. 46 Toyota lost a spot to his teammate, Chandler Smith, on the next restart and then got a bump from the No. 45 truck for the first time. Lessard maintained the fifth position until the next caution occurred with 33 laps remaining.
- Shortly after the race went back green with 27 laps remaining, Lessard got turned by the No. 45 truck and came to rest at the bottom of Turn 3. He quickly got spun back in the right direction and when pit road opened came to the attention of his over-the-wall crew, who put on a set of scuffed tires.
- The Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra would regain the field scored in 19th for the restart with 22 laps remaining. Over the course of two more cautions, Lessard was able to make his way back up to the 12th position before the field took the checkered flag on lap 200.
Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra for KBM:
Talk about your night.
“It didn’t go how we wanted in qualifying. We qualified 16th and just got really loose. At the beginning of the race, we got stuck on the outside. The outside was very bad, so we fell back and then at one point the truck was — at first the truck was too loose again, but it just kept getting better and better each and every lap because the glue would just kind of get some — it would get tighter on me. Everyone was getting tight. I was still wrapping the bottom really, really good and going into the center. Strategy was good. We pitted at the right time. We went all the way up to fourth and I think if it wasn’t for this incident, we could’ve run in the top three easy. It is what it is and we’ll move on. I think that I showed that I can race against those guys and be competitive and just thanks to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, Spectra Premium, Toyota and Marcus Richmond for this great truck.”
UNOH 200 Recap:
- Defending series champion Brett Moffitt opened this year’s playoffs with a victory. It was his third victory of 2019 and the 10th of his Gander Trucks career. KBM driver Chandler Smith finished 0.743 seconds behind Moffitt in the runner-up spot. Chastain, Stewart Friesen and Grant Enfinger rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured 12 cautions for a total of 73 laps. There were nine lead changes among three drivers.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished second
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished ninth
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 23rd
Chandler Smith will be behind the wheel of the No. 46 iBUYPOWER Tundra at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. Nov. 8. Live coverage of the Lucas Oil 150 begins Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1.