Lessard Gives KBM First 2020 Win in Talladega Thriller

(TALLADEGA, AL - OCT 3, 2020 - RIS) Raphael Lessard got a hard shove from Chandler Smith on the last lap of the Chevrolet Silverado 250 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series race to give the young Canadian the win in his first start at Talladega and Kyle Busch Racing's first win in 2020.

The Playoff elimination race started with Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill on the front row, Hill safe for the next races in the Playoffs. The No. 44 truck, to have been started by Natalie Decker, will be driven by Kaz Grala and sent to the back of the lineup after Decker was not cleared medically by NASCAR after she had gall bladder surgery earlier in the year. 

Creed hung onto the lead for the first lap, with almost the entire field lined up like they started. Creed managed to get clear of Hill, followed by Zane Smith briefly until Hill took the lead at the front of the inside row on lap five, holding on for a couple of rounds. Contender Grand Enfinger had damaged to his left rear fender that rubbed a tire down, sending him to the pits early. A block on Hill by Creed backed up the field, starting a chain reaction crash back in the pack that eliminated multiple trucks. At the caution, Eckes, had the lead with a brief red flag for cleanup and to prevent the stage ending under caution pausing the action. 

Todd Gilliland helped push Hill to the stage lead and earned himself second place points in the stage, with Eckes, Creed and Ben Rhodes closing the top five slots under the green and white checkered flag.

Gilliland made three stops during the stage caution for tires and a chassis adjustment. Gus Dean got clipped by Tanner Gray and spun hard into the inside wall with four laps left in Stage Two, ending the stage with Derek Kraus, Johnny Sauter, Chandler Smith, Austin Hill and Brett Moffitt in the first five positions. 

Tanner Gray and Todd Gilliland triggered an early caution in the final stage when Gilliland's truck engine failed and Gray spun hard into the inside wall. Moffitt led the field at the restart, with Creed, Sauter Kraus, Rhodes, Crafton, Friesen, Austin Hill, Tyler Ankrum and Robby Lyons top ten with 41 laps left. Moffitt, Creed and Hill are all assured of moving on to the next round of Playoffs events, with Rhodes, Crafton, Ankrum, Enfinger, Eckes and Gilliland all trying to advance. The three top Toyotas pitted together, taking only fuel, but Austin Hill received a penalty for speeding on entry, earning a drive-through. 

Sheldon Creed lost the lead when his right rear tire lost its tread with less than ten laps left, the carcass on the banking causing a caution with six laps to run. Friesen, Ankrum, Lessard, Chandler Smith and Trevor Bayne held the first five positions with Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes, Johnny Sauter, Jordan Anderson and Christian Eckes the others in the top five.

The race restarted with only two laps remaining, Friesen led, with a multi-truck crash on the last lap giving Raphael Lessard the win over Trevor Bayne after leading at the last timing loop before the caution flew. 

Christian Eckes and Todd Gilliland got knocked out of the Playoffs group, Eckes losing out in the last lap crash and Gilliland sitting in the garage with a blown engine.

"That was awesome," exulted Lessard after the race. "First of all, I want to thank everyone back home, my team at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Canac came on board with us this year. Also, Mobil1, Toyota, TRD – this is amazing, I can't believe it. It's my second superspeedway race and my first truck series win here is amazing."

"I don't know who was behind me, but he gave me a heck of a push and I can't thank him enough because he's part of that win too," the happy winner added. "He pushed me as hard as he could and I was just holding on for the ride. Then the caution came out at the right time. I'm so happy. This was my first time doing a burnout from a race win and I loved it. Hopefully we can do it some more.

The 2020 season has "been pretty crazy. I moved here to Mooresville, North Carolina in January and it's a crazy year to be my first time moving from home. My family is all in Quebec, Canada. It's been crazy and I haven't seen them in a while. I want to say hi to everybody back in Quebec and all my family. I needed that. We had a tough season so this one feels really good.

"All race long, my crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. gave me the best strategy ever. I was kind of getting tired riding out back. My teammate and I worked really well – Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith. I was just getting tired of it and I guess I listened to my crew chief, my team and I think we won it from listening to what my crew chief was telling me. At the end, we were in position to win it and all I was doing was trying to hold it straight and the guy behind me pushed me as much as he could."

"I thought I was close, but I was just focused in case we had another restart. In my head, it wasn't done yet. We didn't get to the start-finish line yet so I thought it was going to be a green-white-checkered, but it didn't happen and we ended up winning."

"I want to go celebrate now with my team, but I'm just a kid from Quebec that started racing growing up. Growing up, I was watching my Dad just race for fun and now I'm here. Just always keep believing and always keep pushing hard."

Matt Crafton commented that he "threw some haymakers right there, did some crazy speedway blocking," after the race.

Unofficial Results, Chevrolet Silverado 250 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Talladega Superspeedway

Fin, Str, Driver, Truck, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 15, Raphael Lessard #, No. 4 Canac Toyota, 94, , , , , 5, 40, Running
2) 25, Trevor Bayne, No. 45 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, 94, , , 1, 1, , 35, Running
3) 5, Chandler Smith, No. 51 iBUYPOWER Toyota, 94, 6, 3, 1, 1, , 47, Running
4) 11, Ben Rhodes (P), No. 99 Tenda Heal Ford, 94, 5, 6, , , , 44, Running
5) 34, Codie Rohrbaugh, No. 9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet, 94, , , , , , 32, Running
6) 26, Jordan Anderson, No. 3 Bommarito.com Chevrolet, 94, , , , , , 31, Running
7) 8, Brett Moffitt (P), No. 23 FR8 Auctions Chevrolet, 94, 9, 5, 1, 13, , 38, Running
8) 7, Matt Crafton (P), No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Ford, 94, , 10, , , , 30, Running
9) 28, Kaz Grala(i), No. 44 Ruedebusch Development Chevrolet, 94, , , , , , 0, Running
10) 17, Derek Kraus #, No. 19 SHOCKWAVE/ENEOS Toyota, 94, 10, 1, 1, 19, 1, 38, Running
11) 14, Johnny Sauter, No. 13 Vivitar Ford, 94, , 2, 1, 11, , 35, Running
12) 1, Sheldon Creed (P), No. 2 Chevy Truck Month Chevrolet, 94, 4, 8, 4, 10, , 35, Running
13) 4, Grant Enfinger (P), No. 98 Champoin/Curb Records Ford, 94, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 22, Clay Greenfield, No. 68 Rackley Roofing Toyota, 94, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 21, Bayley Currey, No. 40 Niece Chevrolet, 94, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 9, Tyler Ankrum (P), No. 26 LiUNA! Chevrolet, 94, 8, 9, , , , 26, Running
17) 13, Stewart Friesen, No. 52 Halmar Racing To Beat Hunger Toyota, 94, , , 1, 6, , 20, Running
18) 6, Christian Eckes # (P), No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota, 93, 3, , 1, 6, , 27, Accident
19) 2, Austin Hill (P), No. 16 United Rentals Toyota, 93, 1, 4, 3, 11, 1, 35, Accident
20) 19, Austin Wayne Self, No. 22 AIRBOX Air Purifiers Chevrolet, 93, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 38, Bryan Dauzat, No. 28 FDNY/Peter Navarra Landscape Chevrolet, 93, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 36, Norm Benning, No. 6 H & H transport Chevrolet, 93, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 32, Josh Reaume, No. 33 The Mullet Toyota, 93, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 31, Jennifer Jo Cobb, No. 10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet, 92, , , 1, 16, , 13, Running
25) 30, Jason White, No. 00 YourGMCTruckStore.com Toyota, 92, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 37, Robby Lyons(i), No. 97 Sunwest Construction Chevrolet, 92, , , , , , 0, Running
27) 27, Ray Ciccarelli, No. 49 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet, 88, , , , , , 10, Running
28) 10, Todd Gilliland (P), No. 38 Speedco Ford, 47, 2, 7, , , , 22, Engine
29) 12, Tanner Gray #, No. 15 Ford Performance Ford, 47, , , , , , 8, Accident
30) 23, Gus Dean, No. 56 MASHONIT Chevrolet, 36, 7, , , , , 11, Accident
31) 16, Tate Fogleman #, No. 02 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet, 19, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 18, Chase Purdy, No. 24 BamaBuggies.com Chevrolet, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
33) 3, Zane Smith # (P), No. 21 LaPaz Margarita Mix Chevrolet, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
34) 20, Danny Bohn, No. 30 North American Motor Car/Sierra Delta Toyota, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
35) 33, Dawson Cram, No. 41 Magnum Contracting Inc. Chevrolet, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
36) 29, Korbin Forrister, No. 17 Supreme Attrax Ford, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
37) 35, Joe Nemechek, No. 8 Ford, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
38) 24, Spencer Boyd, No. 20 Alabama Roofing Professionals Chevrolet, 12, , , , , , 5, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (P) Playoffs qualified

Time of Race: 1 hr, 55 min, 55 sec
Race Length: 94 laps - 250.04 miles

Average Speed: 129.424 mph
Margin of Victory: Under caution

Stage 1 Top 10: 16, 38, 18, 2, 99, 51, 56, 26, 23, 19
Stage 2 Top 10: 19, 13, 51, 16, 23, 99, 38, 2, 26, 88

Race Comments: Raphael Lessard won the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, his first career Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory.

Caution Flags: 5 for 24 laps;
Laps: 14-18 (#02, 8, 13, 17, 21, 22, 24, 30, 41, 52, 68 Incident in Turn 3 [Red Flag: 4:58] [44]);
22-25 (Stage 1 Conclusion [22]);
38-44 (#15, 56 Incident in Turn 4 [98]);
49-53 (#15 Incident on the Backstretch [98]);
90-92 (Debris in Turn 3 [49]).

Lead Changes: 14 among 10 drivers;
S. Creed (P) 1;
A. Hill (P) 2;
S. Creed (P) 3-4;
A. Hill (P) 5-12;
C. Eckes # (P) 13-18;
S. Creed (P) 19;
A. Hill (P) 20-21;
D. Kraus # 22-40;
C. Smith 41;
B. Moffitt (P) 42-54;
J. Sauter 55-65;
J. Cobb 66-81;
S. Creed (P) 82-87;
S. Friesen 88-93;
T. Bayne 94.

Unofficial Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series Points Report
15th Annual Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway
Rank, Driver, Car, Starts, GL, Points, Ldr, Nxt, Race Wins, Stage Wins, Playoff Pts
1) Sheldon Creed (P), 2, 19, 0, 2150, 0, 0, 3, 7, 28
2) Brett Moffitt (P), 23, 19, 0, 2145, -5, 5, 0, 6, 16
3) Grant Enfinger (P), 98, 19, 1, 2118, -32, 27, 3, 1, 19
4) Austin Hill (P), 16, 19, 3, 2111, -39, 7, 2, 3, 28
5) Matt Crafton (P), 88, 19, 1, 2108, -42, 3, 1, 0, 9
6) Ben Rhodes (P), 99, 19, 3, 2107, -43, 1, 1, 1, 14
7) Zane Smith # (P), 21, 19, -4, 2107, -43, 0, 2, 5, 22
8) Tyler Ankrum (P), 26, 19, -3, 2104, -46, 3, 0, 1, 3
9) Christian Eckes # (P), 18, 19, -1, 2096, -54, 8, 0, 0, 5
10) Todd Gilliland (P), 38, 19, 0, 2072, -78, 24, 0, 2, 3
11) Derek Kraus #, 19, 19, 0, 542, -1608, 1530, 0, 1, 0
12) Raphael Lessard #, 4, 19, 1, 464, -1686, 78, 1, 0, 0
13) Tanner Gray #, 15, 19, -1, 451, -1699, 13, 0, 0, 0
14) Johnny Sauter, 13, 19, 1, 433, -1717, 18, 0, 1, 0
15) Stewart Friesen, 52, 19, -1, 415, -1735, 18, 0, 0, 0
16) Ty Majeski, , 15, 0, 299, -1851, 116, 0, 0, 0
17) Austin Wayne Self, 22, 19, 1, 293, -1857, 6, 0, 0, 0
18) Tate Fogleman #, 02, 19, -1, 286, -1864, 7, 0, 0, 0
19) Jordan Anderson, 3, 19, 1, 259, -1891, 27, 0, 0, 0
20) Spencer Boyd, 20, 19, -1, 236, -1914, 23, 0, 0, 0
21) Codie Rohrbaugh, 9, 16, 0, 220, -1930, 16, 0, 0, 0
22) Spencer Davis, , 12, 0, 206, -1944, 14, 0, 0, 0
23) Chandler Smith, 51, 9, 3, 203, -1947, 3, 0, 0, 0
24) Clay Greenfield, 68, 16, -1, 200, -1950, 3, 0, 0, 0
25) Timmy Hill, , 9, -1, 166, -1984, 34, 0, 0, 0
26) Cory Roper, , 12, -1, 161, -1989, 5, 0, 0, 0
27) Parker Kligerman, , 6, 0, 140, -2010, 21, 0, 0, 0
28) Sam Mayer, , 4, 0, 139, -2011, 1, 1, 0, 0
29) Tyler Hill, , 9, 0, 138, -2012, 1, 0, 0, 0
30) Natalie Decker, , 12, 0, 136, -2014, 2, 0, 0, 0

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2020, Issue 9, Posted 4:37 PM, 10.03.2020