Raphaël Lessard crowned champion of 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour
Raphaël Lessard, from Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec took the title of the 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour Saturday in North Carolina.
Lessard only had to take the start of the race to secure the title due to his point lead. Raphaël, only 15 years old, became the first non-American to win this title since Mario Gosselin in 1997. Lessard also became the youngest Canadian ever to win an American-based stock car series.
“I cannot thank David Gilliland Racing Team enough; my Toyota Camry was once again perfect,” said Lessard after the race. “I could have never won the championship without them, I could have not asked for better. I also want to thank my crew chief, Seth Smith, who believed in me since day 1, as well as my parents who have supported me through the years. I would also like to thank my agent Robert Desrosiers without whom all this would not have been possible, as well as Toyota, TRD, CSX, Team Coach Imaging and JBL Audio.”
A fourth victory this season
As usual, Lessard had a really good start, passing from the 7th place up to the second position in the first ten laps of the CSX Play it Safe 250 presented by MMIA, a 125-laps race. It is at the Southern National Motorsports Park that Raphaël started his season on April 3rd, when he finished third, setting the tone for the rest of the season.
The driver of the car No. 99 FRL Express/Team Coach Imaging/Toyota/JBLAudio prepared by David Gilliland Racing had an amazing race. It is at lap 82 that Lessard was able to grab first place while having a great battle with Brandon Setzer and Matt Craig. The race went smoothly until halfway through when, during a restart, Brandon Setzer and Raphaël made contact. Lessard was able to keep the lead on Setzer and Craig.
Afterwards, it is with Cole Tim, Raphaël’s teammate that he fought for the lead. In the end, Raphaël had a perfect race, creating a significant gap between him and the second place car, and winning his fourth race of the Super Late Model season.
“The start of the race went very well, the 54 car of Matt Craig was very fast so I tried to follow him and make him burn his tires,” Lessard added. “It worked since he started to slow down, and when I saw Brandon Setzer in my rear view mirror I thought it was time to pass Craig for the first place. The rest of the race went well. I had a small contact with Setzer at the restart, but honestly I do not know what happened, at least he didn’t have any damage on his car.”
Raphaël Lessard’s next race will be during the Snowball Derby on December 4th at the 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Canadian Raphaël Lessard takes impressive 3rd place in All-American 400
Sunday's 49th Snowball Derby to showcase NASCAR's young talent