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Through two Snowball Derby appearances, Raphael Lessard has managed two top-10s.

That’s no small feat for the 16-year-old David Gilliland Racing driver.

He spent the first half of the race just outside of the top-10 from his 18th starting position, but cracked the top-10 by Lap 105. He reached the top-5 by Lap 188.

However, a bump by former teammate Chase Purdy on Lap 206 demoted him to eighth place and forced him to give up two more positions a few laps later. He then lost time to the leaders, and after the last pit stop, he was up in 10th place.

On the final lap he move ahead of McReynolds to secure the ninth-place finish. It was a nice rebound for the No. 99 team considering the weekend began with a blown motor in Thursday practice.

“All things considered it wasn’t a bad race,” Lessard said. “I was happy to finish inside the top-10 which was my goal going into the weekend. There was an awful lot of bumping going on and I found myself trapped on the outside on my than one occasion making it difficult to move. On the last lap I saw an opportunity to pass McReynolds and took it.”

That’s now two seasons with DGR for the French-Canadian. During that time, he’s posted two top-10s in the biggest race of the year and scored the 2016 CARS Tour Super Late Model championship.

“Another season is now in the books,” he added. “I couldn’t do what I do without the help of so many people. While I may be the one driving the car, racing is a team sport. I want to thank David Gilliland for his faith in me and for surrounding me with a great team at DGR; Michelle, Chris, Tic-Tac, Kathy, Seth, Derek, Mark, Ed, Austin, Sam, Jeremy, Mojo, Don, Todd, Anthony and Cole.  I also am very grateful to Toyota-TRD, David Wilson, Tyler Gibbs and Jack Irving for their continuous support.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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