Raphaël Lessard Earns Career-Best Truck Series Finish at Michigan
Date: August 7, 2020
Event: Henry Ford Health System 200 (Race 11 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGROTS)
Location: Michigan International Speedway (Two-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps/20 laps/67 laps
Start/Finish: 11th / 7th (Running, completed 107 of 107 laps)
Winner: Zane Smith of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Raphaël Lessard rebounded from two flat tire to earn a career-best seventh place-finish in the Henry Ford Health System 200 at Michigan International Speedway. The rookie driver scored his first top-10 finish of 2020 and third top-10 of his career Friday night. Raphaël Lessard also led four laps.
Stage One Recap:
- Raphaël Lessard started in the 11th position after a random draw in tiers based on the 2020 NGROTS owner’s points. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. summoned the rookie driver down pit lane under the second caution flag of the night as the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop.
- Raphaël Lessard would finish Stage One in the 12th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- Before the start of Stage Two, Raphaël Lessard radioed to his spotter asking where the leaders were running. While the majority of the field pitted, Raphaël Lessard and the SiriusXM | Canac team stayed out to restart from the second position. On the Lap 25 restart, Raphael Lessard garnered the race lead and would remain out front for four laps before a flat tire sent the rookie driver down pit road on Lap 29. Raphael Lessard would get caught one lap down.
- Raphaël Lessard would finish the second stage in the 38th position.
- During the stage caution, Raphaël Lessard and the SiriusXM | Canac team wanted to take the wave around providing all the leaders pitted. The rookie driver would take the wave around but noticed another flat tire while taking it. The 19-year-old driver was summoned to pit road and had to give back his lap.
- The fifth caution of the night on Lap 51 allowed Raphaël Lessard to get his lap back as the “lucky dog.” In an effort to combat more flat tires, Mike Hillman Jr. called his driver down pit lane so the over-the-wall crew could administer repairs and add fuel to the SiriusXM | Canac Tundra.
- Under the sixth caution of the day on Lap 60, Raphaël Lessard came back down pit road to fix some damage to the nose of his SiriusXM | Canac Tundra. The rookie driver would restart from the 24th position.
- Under the seventh caution of the night, Raphaël Lessard worked his way up to the 16th position. He radioed to his crew that he needed to work on timing his runs better. He would restart from the 14th position.
- After four cautions, two attempts at NASCAR Overtime and a red flag, Raphaël Lessard would battle amongst the top-five trucks but in the end finished in the seventh position.
Raphaël Lessard, driver of the No. 4 SiriusXM | Canac Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What was the race like for you today and how proud are you of your career-best finish?
“The beginning of the race went really well. I think we had the right strategy. We pitted before the end of Stage One so we could get through the end of Stage Two without pitting. We took the lead at the beginning of Stage Two and I felt like we were one of the only trucks that could get up front and keep a good gap with the guy in second place. I wasn’t running 100 percent because I was trying to take care of my stuff at the same time. The SiriusXM | Canac Toyota Tundra was really, really fast today. Just can’t thank everyone on my team enough. While we were leading, we got a flat tire so we had to come to pit road. Got lapped and just from there on it was all teamwork. It was all about my team never giving up and just working hard all race. We got another flat during the race so that kind of put us behind again. I just can’t thank everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports and my crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr. – he did an awesome job tonight. My truck was really fast. I think it needs a whole body. There was a lot of drag in the truck at the end. I wasn’t really good in traffic because of that, but we battled for a top-five at the end. That’s really good and what we needed. We just never gave up and that’s what we’re all about. Just keep on working. I feel like we’re just going to keep on improving and keep getting better for the rest of the season.”
Henry Ford Health System 200 Recap:
- Zane Smith picked up his first victory of the 2020 season beating Christian Eckes by 0.318 seconds. Tanner Gray, Tyler Ankrum and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top-five.
- The race featured 11 cautions for a total of 51 laps. There were 16 lead changes among 13 drivers, including Raphaël Lessard who led once for four laps.
How Lessard’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished second
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 38th.
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
After 11 events, Raphaël Lessard ranks 14th in the NGROTS championship standings. The rookie of the year candidate sits 181 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill.
Raphaël Lessard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra when the NGROTS resumes action on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course. Live coverage will be on RDS, FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at noon ET.
**Press Release prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports
Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography