Raphael Lessard escapes Talladega with checkered flag
By Nick Lewis
Raphael Lessard won the Chevrolet Silverado 250 Saturday (Oct. 3rd) at Talladega Superspeedway for his first career win in his rookie campaign in the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series.
Lessard was in third place on the final restart and was able to get inside of leader Stewart Friesen on the backstretch to control the bottom lane. A late race wreck involving Friesen put Trevor Bayne and Lessard side-by-side when the caution came out for a finish that was determined by six one-thousandths of a second.
“It was amazing,” said Lessard about his first win. “You never know what’s going to happen at these super speedways and at the end I was in position to win. I started on the restart and my crew chief told me to go as hard as I could, just push the guy in front of me and to not lift.”
Lessard, who is a native of Quebec, Canada, has been away from his family during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be unable to celebrate his first win with them. Lessard said he probably won’t sleep a lot and he will be spending time with his team jokingly saying that he will enjoy the win with a lot of water because he doesn’t drink alcohol.
Throughout the race, there was plenty of action for some of the playoff drivers and for others their stress melted away as the race progressed.
An early incident at the front of the field involving Sheldon Creed trying to hold the lead caused trucks behind them to check up and it sent playoff driver Zane Smith wrecked and spinning into the infield in Turns 3 and 4. Smith would have to hold his breath the rest of the race to see if he advanced to the next round.
At the conclusion of the first stage Sheldon Creed locked in his spot in the next round of the playoffs based on points.
Finishing Stage 2, Brett Moffitt clinched his spot in the next round allowing him to focus on racing for the win. Luck was not on the side of Todd Gilliland who had an engine issue in the middle of the final stage.
Those advancing to the next round are Austin Hill, Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Tyler Ankrum, Matt Crafton, and Ben Rhodes.
For Gilliland and Christian Eckes, their hopes for a series title are over but they will continue to search for wins and play spoiler for the playoff drivers who will continue their championship hopes. The Top-10 finishers at Talladega were Lessard, Bayne, Chandler Smith, Rhodes, Codie Rohrbaugh, Jordan Anderson, Moffitt, Crafton, Kaz Grala, and Derek Kraus.
The next race for the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series will be the Clean Harbors 200 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday October 17 at 4 pm EST on FOX.
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