Raphael Lessard Had Handling Issues at Bristol

Raphael Lessard

Date: Sept. 17, 2020

Event: UNOH 200 (Race 17of 23)

Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGROTS)

Location: Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee (0.533-mile oval)

Format: Three Stages; 55 laps/55 laps/90 laps

Start/Finish: 19th /18th (Running, completed 199 of 200 laps)

Winner: Sam Mayer of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)

After losing a lap to the leaders at the very end of the first stage, the specific race circumstances at a small oval like the Bristol Motor Speedway, and the poor handling of the #4 Tundra CANAC truck meant that Raphael Lessard was unable to get back on the leaders’ lap during the next two stages. The truck’s suspension settings based on those of the 2019 race produced an oversteer that the team was unable to correct during pit stops, making it impossible to get back up to the leaders as Raphael Lessard served us throughout the season. The young driver thus finished the race 19th, but a penalty to another driver gave him the 18th place at the end, and thus to keep his 12th place in the classification of the drivers.

Stage One Recap:

Raphael Lessard started in the 19th position after a performance matrix based off of finishing position from the previous race, ranking in the owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

Under the first caution of the night on Lap 8, Raphael Lessard radioed that his CANAC Tundra was tight at first but was better as the run went on. He would restart in the 17th position.

Raphael Lessard would finish the stage in the 19th position, one lap down.

Stage Two Recap:

At the stage break, Raphael Lessard radioed to his crew that his CANAC Tundra was loose. Veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. summoned the 19-year-old driver down pit road and the over-the-wall crew administered a stop changing four tires, adding fuel, and making a trackbar adjustment. Raphael Lessard would restart the stage from the 17th position.

Prior to the third caution on Lap 83, Raphael Lessard was in position to receive the free pass, but the race leader passed his KBM teammate Chandler Smith and put him one lap down with the caution waving seconds later. Under the caution, the rookie driver radioed to his crew that he needed right-front turn. Mike Hillman Jr. kept his rookie driver on the racetrack.

Raphael Lessard finished the stage in the 21st position.

Final Stage:

During the stage caution, Raphael Lessard radioed to the CANAC team that he was still battling a loose Toyota Tundra. Mike Hillman Jr. called his rookie driver to the pit lane for four tires, fuel, and a trackbar adjustment. Raphael Lessard would start the stage in the 20th position.

During the fifth and final caution on Lap 157, Raphael Lessard was told that he was the fastest truck on track for the three previous laps and to keep fighting despite being one lap down. Mike Hillman Jr. kept the rookie driver on the track. He would restart from the 19th position.

Raphael Lessard would finish the race in the 19th position, but after a disqualification, the rookie driver is credited with an 18th-place finish.

Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 CANAC Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports

How was your night?

“We really struggled. We were really bad from the get-go. We were trying to work the outside and the inside. It wasn’t great. We fell a lap down at the beginning because of where we started. We couldn’t get back on the lead lap. The truck was not good at all. There is no reason for us to be running where we were at Bristol. Bristol is one of my best tracks. It was very frustrating, but I can’t thank everyone enough at CANAC, Mobil 1, Toyota and Kyle Busch Motorsports.”

UNOH 200 Recap:

· Sam Mayer scored his first-career victory beating teammate Brett Moffitt by 4.413 seconds. Tanner Gray, Parker Kligerman and KBM’s Chandler Smith rounded out the top-five.

· The race featured five cautions for a total of 41 laps. There were four lead changes among three drivers.

How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:

· Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 12th.

· Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished fifth.

NGROTS Standings:

After 17 events, Lessard remains 12th in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series point standings.

Next Race:

Raphael Lessard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Tundra when the NGROTS resumes action on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the World of Westgate 200 will be on RDS, Fox Sports Racing, FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 9 p.m. ET.


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