Busy week for Raphaël Lessard, the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) driver, as he competed in his second race of the week at the Kalamazoo Speedway in Michigan on Wednesday evening.
The Kalamazoo Klash 125, a 125-lap race, featured an oval legend: Kyle Busch. While Bush was starting from the third row, Raphaël Lessard was forced to start from the back of the field because of changes made to the car between the qualification session and the race. Despite his starting position, Raphaël had a chance to rub elbows with Busch when they were battling side by side for 7th place. Unfortunately, a competitor pushed Busch into the wall, which forced him to retreat, resulting in a 13th-place finish for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver.
The Toyota Camry #99 FRL Express/Toyota-TRD/JBL Audio prepared by David Gilliland Racing
driver had a great start, moving up from 20rd to the Top 10 in under 27 laps. “The car was great,” mentioned Raphaël, “I was passing a lot of drivers while moving up to the leader’s pack, all the while managing my tires and pushing hard.”
It is during a restart that Raphaël made contact with another driver trying to block him. The alignment of the car was then compromised, which prevented Raphaël to race to his full potential. Towards the end of the race, another fender-bender prevented Lessard from finishing in the Top 5.
“At the end of the race, I was able to follow the other drivers, we were then 7th when we hit some traffic. One of the back markers pushed me up the track, and I tried to brake to avoid him. Unfortunately I touched him, which sent him into a spin. I lost part of my front bumper in the incident, so my car was no longer aerodynamic.”
Even though these few incidents put a halt to Raphaël’s quest for victory, he still feels he could have won the race, “I want to thank my team who worked really hard between the qualification and the race to change the set-up of my car. We had some misfortunes with other drivers, but I am sure we could have been up there in the front of the field with the car we had.”
Raphaël’s next race will be August 12 as he participates in a CRA Series' race at the Flat Rock Speedway in Michigan.