An afternoon to remember for Raphael Lessard
Quebec teenager Raphael Lessard finished 14th and on the lead lap in his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start Saturday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Although he didn’t the top-10 finish he had hoped for, it was a great weekend for Lessard in his NASCAR national series debut with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Lessard qualified seventh and fell back as far as 18th before rebounding for his top-15 finish driving the No. 46 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The St.-Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, native caught the attention of many at the speedway practicing in the top-10 and qualifying seventh.
“I wanted to complete all the laps and I thought we could have had a little better finish but it’s all part of the learning curve,” said Lessard. “I didn’t know what to expect during the race and I’ve learned and now I know.
“If I get the opportunity to come back here again in the future it’s going to be way better.”
Lessard is no stranger to racing on tracks that host NASCAR national series races and already has a win at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last year in a Late Model race, but he quickly realized Martinsville had its own challenging characteristics.
“It was fun running (in the top 10) but as the track got slicker the grip went away on my truck,” said Lessard. “I had no grip anywhere. I just tried to find grip anywhere I could. I tried to run low but my truck seemed to run better up high.
“I think this track is one of the hardest of any I’ve been to. This track is really hard (to drive in a race). We were missing on something for the race.”
Lessard, 17, is also scheduled to drive a KBM truck at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June and Bristol in August.
“I think we showed everyone we were here and I’m pretty proud of our finish,” Lessard said. “Our first (race) is now in the books. I just want to thank Spectra Premium, Toyota and Kyle Busch Motorsports for this opportunity.
“I’m going to learn from this race and the truck is in one piece so it was a good day.”
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