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Gander Truck Series

Raphael Lessard wins the Chevrolet Silverado 200

Raphael Lessard
Raphael Lessard. Credit: 7/18/2020 | Chris Graythen | Getty Images via NASCAR Media

Driving a Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Raphael Lessard holds off Trevor Bayne in the Chevrolet Silverado 200 at Talladega

Raphael Lessard didn’t need to cross the finish line to collect his first career victory in the Gander Truck Series. Two big wrecks behind him on the final lap Chevrolet Silverado 200 brought out a caution, and with a slim margin of just 0.330-seconds, NASCAR declared him the winner over Trevor Bayne.

Lessard joins Sheldon Creed, Zane Smith, part-timer Sam Mayer, and Brandon Jones to register his first series win in 2020. A native of St.-Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, Raphael Lessard had just one top-five and four top-ten finishes this year, leading only nine laps before Saturday.

“That was awesome,” Lessard said right after he climbed out of his car. “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.

“It’s 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.”

Meanwhile, Bayne had his best finish to date since returning to NASCAR on Sept. 6 at Darlington. He had previously finished fifth in the UNOH 200 at Bristol but disqualified after his truck failed inspection.

In the playoff chase, the field for the Round of 8 is set. Early in the race, Todd Gilliland blew an engine and got eliminated. He started the day in ninth, so he needed an excellent finish and some help to move on. Also eliminated was Tyler Ankrum, who finished P16.

PRERACE NOTES

Prerace technical inspection had two teams receiving L1 penalties from NASCAR. The No. 9 truck driven by Codie Rohrbaugh and the No. 52 truck piloted by Stewart Friesen both had their crew chiefs ejected from today’s race and were docked 20 championship owner and driver points, respectively, after violating Section 20.4.12.c Bed Cover.

Kaz Grala replaces Natalie Decker, who remains sidelined after not being medically cleared by NASCAR to participate at Las Vegas and Talladega. Details of her current health remain foggy. Decker, 23, also missed the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway Truck Series race in June after being hospitalized because of complications related to her gallbladder removal last December.

CHEVROLET SILVERADO 200 RACE BREAKDOWN

LAP 1 of 94: Sheldon Creed (pole) and Austin Hill led the field of 39 trucks to the green flag.

LAP 15: Major wreck *RED FLAG* Sheldon Creed was trying to block the bottom lane from Austin Hill; the two trucks made contact, which caused several trucks to lift momentarily, sending a chain-reaction throughout the field. There were 11 trucks involved, but the only playoff driver knocked out was Zane Smith. Red Flag time: 4:58. Kaz Grala gets the Lucky Dog.

LAP 20: End Stage 1. Austin Wayne Self gets the free pass. Trucks out of the race: Spencer Boyd, Joe Nemechek, Korbin Forrister, Dawson Cram, Danny Bohn, Chase Purdy, and Zane Smith.

LAP 36 (Becomes the End of Stage 2): Rookie Tanner Gray in the No. 15 came down on the nose of the No. 56 of Gus Dean, but did not make contact. Gray did it again, and this time he sent Dean hard into the inside wall and out of the race. Grant Enfinger is back on the lead lap with the free pass.

GILLILAND PLAYOFF HOPES ENDED

LAP 47: Todd Gilliland loses an engine, and Tanner Gray, who was right behind the No. 38, spins and hits the inside wall destroying his truck. Both were running inside the top-ten when it happened. Gilliland and Gray join Gus Dean in the garage making eleven trucks out of the race. Enfinger gets another free pass. NOTE: Gilliland had an outside chance of advancing in the Gander Trucks playoffs. However, his early exit ended any chance of moving into the Round of 8. Zane Smith, whose day ended in the Lap 15 wreck, was still alive.

LAP 65: Green flag pit stops begin. Austin Hill joined two other Toyotas as the first trucks in, but was nabbed for speeding and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Staying out was Jennifer Jo Cobb, and she would take the lead in her No. 10 Silverado. The is was start No. 207 for Cobb and registered her first laps led since 2018.

LAP 81: Sheldon Creed and others who pitted passed Cobb and those who didn’t with 12 laps to go. Creed, Moffitt, Grala, Friesen, and Tyler Ankrum were P1-5. Creed still pacing the field with ten laps left.

LAP 88: Caution for debris from Creed tire. Friesen inherited the lead, followed by Ankrum, Raphael Lessard, Chandler Smith, and Trevor Bayne. Four drivers were hovering around the cut line with one eliminated at race end. Free pass to Ray Ciccarelli. Two lap shootout for the win.

LAP 94 (FINAL LAP): Two separate wrecks bring out the caution. It was none to nose between Lessard and Bayne, and with a margin of 0.330-seconds, Lessard was declared the winner.

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