Raphaël Lessard comes home fifth in an action-packed race in Indiana
Sometimes the best car doesn’t always win the race and that can be said for Saturday night’s race at Anderson Speedway for Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec driver Raphaël Lessard.
Lessard had a strong car throughout the 51st edition of the CRA/ARCA Redbud 400 and ran either first or second for most of the second half of the race, but it was the final restart of the night that cost the teenager a chance at a win.
Lessard passed Stephen Wallace for the lead late in the race and Wallace made hard contact with Lessard going into Turn 1 that got him loose allowing Wallace to take the lead and Lessard settled into fifth-place once he regained control of his car after the bump by Wallace.
“With one or two laps to go, once I had finally managed to pass him, Wallace knocked me hard, and I had trouble controlling my car from then on,” said Lessard. “I tried to come back but he was too far gone and I lost a few positions. Before this incident, the car was very fun to drive, thanks to David Gilliland Racing, my crew chief Seth Smith. Also, many thanks to my parents, my agent Robert Desrosiers, FRL Express and Toyota.”
The field was close throughout the day in the annual high-profile late model race with the top three all qualifying, including Lessard, all qualified within a one-one thousand of a second with Lessard starting third.
Fifteen yellow flags set the pace for this action-packed race with Lessard near the front on every restart.
“At the beginning of the race everything was going great,” said Lessard. “I started from third position and stayed there for a while. During restarts early in the race, I was always starting from the inside line, which was not working out for me, so I dropped to seventh position, yet climbed back up quickly. We had a different pit-stop strategy than the other cars on the track. This strategy paid off as when the drivers entered the pits, I was able to lead the race for several laps, even if the other cars were quicker than me because of their new tires.”
One race added to Lessard's 2017 schedule
A 20th SLM race has just been added to Lessard's 2017 race schedule and it happens to be his next race. He’ll participate in the 2nd annual Pro Stock / Super Late Model National Championship at Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts on Wednesday July 12.
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