Lessard Rebounds from Late-Race Penalty to Finish 11th at Homestead

june 13, 2020

Date: June 13, 2020

Event: Baptist Health (Race 5 of 23)

Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Location: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Format: Three Stages; 30 laps/30 laps/74 laps

Start/Finish: 14th /11th (Running, completed 134 of 134 laps)

Winner: Kyle Busch of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)

Raphael Lessard finished 11th in the Baptist Health 200 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in his first career start at the 1.5-mile oval. By finishing the first stage in the eighth position, Lessard garnered three stage points, and by finishing 10th in the second stage, he garnered an additional stage point. During green flag pit stops in the final stage, Lessard was caught speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

Luckily, the caution flag flew seven laps later, and Lessard was able to secure the wave around. In the final caution of the night, Lessard brought his No. 4 Mobil 1 | Canac Tundra down pit road in the 21st position, and he would come off pit lane after getting four tires and fuel in the 11th position. On the last restart of the night, Lessard was shuffled back to the 14th position but was able to rebound to finish 11th.

Stage One Recap:

  • Lessard started in the 16th position after a random draw in tiers based on the Gander Trucks owner's points. In the opening run of the race, Lessard was told to be careful with his tires. During the competition caution on Lap 15, Lessard radioed to his crew that he was a little free in the turns. At the time of caution, he was running in the 15th The rookie driver would stay out under that caution.
  • On Lap 21, Lessard found himself in the middle of a four-truck incident coming off of Turn 4. The rookie driver was able to escape the wreck unscathed. The crew had concerns that he locked up his front tires, but eventually determined his tires for fine for the remainder of the stage. He would restart in the 10th
  • The Mobil 1 Tundra would finish the stage in the eighth position garnering three stage points.

Stage Two Recap:

  • Before the start of Stage Two, Lessard told crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that he wanted to be more secure on entry. The 18-year-old driver was brought down pit lane for fresh tires and fuel. After the pit stop, he was told to get into Turn 3 a little bit deeper if the truck would allow it.
  • With five laps remaining in the stage, Lessard radioed to the crew that he was loose off Turn 4 but tight off Turn 2.
  • The Mobil 1 | Canac Tundra would finish the second stage in the 10th position, receiving one stage point.

Final Stage Recap:

  • Before hitting pit road, Lessard communicated to his team that he was loose off Turn 4 at the end of the run. He was told that he was running the same lap times with drivers in the fourth through six positions. He mentioned that he would like to run the top of the racetrack in the corner, but he was having a hard time coming off it. He would start the final stage in the eighth position.
  • During the fifth caution of the night, Lessard told the crew that his truck was good, but that he could be better at chasing the lines. The Mobil 1 | Canac Tundra did not come down pit road and would restart in the eighth position.
  • When green flag racing resumed on Lap 75, Lessard worked his way up to the fourth position on the restart. Once the field began to settle on Lap 81, the rookie driver was told to get back in his race rhythm. Three laps later, Lessard fell back to seventh but was told to regroup and try the bottom groove in Turns 3 and 4.
  • By Lap 98, Lessard fell back to the 11th On Lap 90, he would radio to the crew that he had no rear grip in his Tundra and felt he may have a tire going down. Hillman would call the rookie down pit road after maintaining the 11th position.
  • While on pit road, Lessard was busted for speeding on pit road. He would serve his pass-through penalty and cycle to the 22nd Luckily, the caution flew on Lap 105 for a spin.
  • Because the leaders came down pit road, Lessard was told to stay out in order to receive the wave around. He would apologize to his team for the mistake on pit road but was told to keep pushing it as the team is learning together.
  • While under caution, the red flag was displayed to fix the sand barrels at pit exit. During the red flag, Lessard radioed to his crew that he went too hard at the beginning of the stage and burned his tires. At the restart on Lap 111, Lessard would sit in the 21st
  • The final caution of the night would fall on Lap 124, and Lessard worked his way up to the 16th The over-the-wall crew administered a speedy four-tire and fuel stop, which would allow Lessard to be scored in the 11th position for the ensuing restart.
  • The No. 4 Mobil 1 | Canac Tundra would finish in the 11th

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

"Well, what a night. I learned a new racetrack. I felt like it was very tough in the first few laps, but then I got used to it. I got comfortable on the racetrack. I felt like we had a really good truck. I'm sorry to all my guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports because I made a mistake. It is my mistake. I went too fast on pit road. It was my first speeding penalty. That put us one lap down, and it was very hard to come back from 22nd at the end. We still finished 11th, but it is not what we wanted. They knew we were there. We keep getting better. I keep getting more experience, and I'm loving it more and more. Thanks to everyone at Mobil 1, Canac, Toyota, TRD, and we will go get it next time."

Baptist Health 200 Recap:

  • Kyle Busch picked up his 58th career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory and second of 2020. Tyler Ankrum crossed the stripe 2.847 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up position. Ross Chastain came home third, Chase Elliott was fourth and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top-five finishers
  • The race featured seven cautions for a total of 34 laps. There were eight lead changes among six drivers.

How Lessard's KBM Teammates Fared:

  • Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished first.
  • Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished eighth.

Gander Trucks Championship Standings:

Lessard gained two spots in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck driver championship standings and is now 13th. The rookie of the year candidate sits 95 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill. He also sits fourth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 51 tallies behind his KBM teammate Christian Eckes.

Next Race:

Lessard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action June 27 at Pocono (P.A.) Raceway for the Pocono Organics 150 at 12:30 p.m. ET.

**Press Release prepared by Kyle Busch Motorpsorts

Photo Credit: Getty Images