#99 FRL Express/ Team Coach Imaging/Toyota/JBLAudio
ACCIDENT FORCES RAPHAËL LESSARD OUT OF WINCHESTER 400
Knocked out of race with 5 laps to go in epic first place battle
WINCHESTER, Indiana, October 9, 2016– Raphaël Lessard, from St-Joseph-de-Beauce, was not able to complete the 45th Annual Winchester 400 at the Winchester Speedway when Stephen Nasse lost control of his car and brought Lessard with him. This action-packed race was one of the several non championship races in which Raphaël has decided to participate this season.
Qualified 9th for this race, Raphaël raced against top notch drivers, such as NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers Cody Coughlin, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Dalton Sargeant. As a matter of fact, Lessard had an amazing battle with Coughlin who eventually bowed down to the 15 year-old Québec driver. However, what impressed the most was Raphaël's comeback undertaken with 50 laps to go.
It is behind the wheel of his Toyota Racing Camry #99 FRL Express/Team Coach Imaging /Toyota/JBLAudio, wearing for the occasion the I Brake for Trains logo, the latest safety campaign from CSX Transportation, that Raphaël went from 9th position to 1st place. Prepared by David Gilliland Racing, Lessard proved once more that his car excels every time he attacks the leaders in closing laps of a race.
Five laps before the end, the worst happened when Lessard was trying to protect his first place against Dalton Sargeant and Stephen Nasse. After a contact between Sargeant and Nasse, who by then had passed Lessard, Nasse lost control of his #51 car and hit the wall. Raphaël was then on the outside of the field, and was not able to avoid him.
"Prior to the accident, the race was going very well, we led for many laps. At the beginning, we were safeguarding the car, we tried not to go to the front because it was rough racing. The strategy was to get to the 300th lap without forcefully attacking, and then for the last 100 laps, we would go for it. At the restart we were first, but we were passed because we had not stopped at the pits, the strategy being different. When we came in to the pits for the last time, the team changed the tires on the right side and it did great for the car. We were still leading the race until a yellow flag came up with 5 tours remaining. On the restart, Stephen Nasse and Dalton went through. I think that Dalton forgot to brake, because he hit Nasse and I was not able to prevent the accident."
Raphaël states that the team will be ready for the next CARS Tour Super Late Model race. In all he is happy with the experience: "Overall, we raced with the best in stock-cars, we even overtook them. Of course, we go to the races to win them, so to not finish an event is disappointing, but we shall come back stronger. I can only thank the crew of David Gilliland Racing and TRD for their support and amazing work at preparing race after race a very performing car."
Once again, the commentators from Speed51 repeatedly commented on Raphaël undeniable talent. While the commentators had predicted that Christopher Bell, Dalton Sargeant or William Byron would win the race, they quickly changed their minds when they saw what Lessard was able to do behind the wheel. They were quite disappointed to see Raphaël abandon the race.
Raphaël's next race will be on October 29 for the second to last race in the CARS Tour Super Late Model series at the Hickory Motor Speedway.
We invite you to visit Raphaël's Facebookpage for more details and information on each on-track appearance and also to follow his Twitter feed: @raphael_lessard. Photos and support documents are also available if you click on this Dropbox link.
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