Raphaël Lessard, the St-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec, native, was participating in the Glass City 200 in the ARCA/CRA Super Series at the Toledo Speedway in Ohio this Saturday evening. Victim of an accident in the early stage of the race, the 16-year-old driver had to retire on the 73rd lap.
The Toyota Camry #99 FRL Express/Toyota-TRD/JBL Audio prepared by David Gilliland Racing driver had set the 4th best time during qualifying earlier in the day. With the first 9 positions being inverted on the starting grid, he began the race in 6th place.
After 10 laps, an accident on the track ruined Raphaël's hopes for a Top 3 finish. Dalton Armstrong and Tristan Van Wieringen made contact, which created a ripple effect behind them. Raphaël was not able to avoid a competitor in front of him. With the front bumper and wing gone, he had to return to the pits in order for the team to work on the car.
After returning on the track, the car was not performing, and at the 73rd lap, the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) driver was forced to retire from the race to preserve the car. Although he only completed 73 laps, he finished 13th on a 22-car field.
“We had a great car today”, said Raphaël, visibly disappointed. “I am sure that we could have finished in the Top 3 since it was going so well in the early stage of the race. I was managing my tires and was moving up. It was my first time on this very special track, so to set the 4th time in qualifying surprised me. I had the feeling that I was improving every lap. There was nothing more we could have done after the accident. We will continue working hard. Many thanks to the team who did a tremendous job on the car this weekend.”
Raphaël’s next race will be September 23rd in the SSS series at the 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.