LAS VEGAS, NV (March 8, 2021)- After starting from the 13th spot aboard his Silverado #24 Camping World truck, Raphael Lessard had to fight with a serious oversteer problem over the first two stages.
After stops at the pits at the end of the first two stages, the 19-year-old driver now had a truck that was handling properly and was in an excellent ninth spot for the restart of the final stage. Bad luck struck when an eager crew member had jumped over the wall too early on that stop and Raphael Lessard had to restart at the back of the lead pack, in 23rd place.
He then set off from deep in the pack on one of his usual runs through the field, hopefully up to what could have been a top-10 result. However, he caused an incident on lap 96 that heavily damaged his truck and left him 30th in the end.
The Race From the Driver’s Seat
“I felt that the truck was not working well right from the start. Handling was good at the bottom of the track, but turbulence and a bad oversteer pushed me up the track and forced me to slow down in the middle of the corner, which ruined my corner exits. I finished the first stage in 20th position and the second in 16th despite the suspension modifications and other adjustments made by the crew in the pits at the end of stages 1 and 2,” explained the Silverado #24 Camping World driver.
“The truck was working better and better in the third stage and I was pushing hard to gain positions. With 38 laps to go, I hit David Gilliland who was running on my inside, and lost control. It was my mistake and I apologize to the other victims of the incident,” concluded a driver disappointed with his mistake that cost him dearly.
Next Race – Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 20, 2021
After this difficult race, Raphael Lessard and his Silverado #24 from the GMS Racing team move on to the Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, Georgia), another fast 1.5-mile oval similar to the Las Vegas Speedway, for the March 20 running of the FRB Auctions 200.
Raphael Lessard and the NCWTS
After five (5) races in NASCAR trucks in 2019, Raphael Lessard competed in all 23 races of the NCWTS in 2020, his first full season at that level. His first 10 races of 2020 served him well as he worked hard with a professional team, and against seasoned drivers.
He learned more advanced driving techniques from these experienced drivers as well as from his Spotter: learning new track quickly without a pre-race test or qualifying session, watching their driving trajectories and test new ones for himself as the track changes over the course of the race, managing downforce and turbulence, overtaking more effectively and protecting your position in the race, adapting to handling defects and adjusting his driving during a run, communicating effectively with the team during a run to describe any problems, managing front/rear braking distribution during a run, managing tire wear to optimize their performance at the end of the race and working in unison with team members during a pit stop.
The effects of this learning were clearly visible over the second half of the 2020 season, as Raphael Lessard caught and worked his way to the leaders several times to put himself in a position to win, as he did at Talladega, and accumulating four top-5 and seven top-10 finishes over the course of the season.