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Raphael Lessard pulls away late to win Bristol U.S. Nationals

Raphael Lessard scored the biggest win of his career on Sunday afternoon by taking the checkered flag in the Rusty Wallace Automotive Group Short Track U.S. Nationals 100 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Lessard, who drives the No. 51 Mobile 1 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports led 30 laps early in the race, fell back in the middle portion of the event and then retook the lead with less than 30 to go and never looked back.

The 16-year-old driver from Quebec finished in front of NASCAR Truck Series regular Stewart Friesen, Corey Heim and Mason Mingus to earn his first win in the Super Late Model division. Lessard led more than 40 laps en route to the victory.

“This is awesome to be here in Bristol, it’s amazing,” Lessard said in his noticeable French accent. “I can’t thank my team enough. Kyle Busch Motorsports has given me a great car all year. The Camry was really good.”

He made his final move for the lead late in the race when polesitter Trevor Noles was setting the pace in his No. 22 machine. Noles ran into lapped traffic before a tire rub took him out of the race. Noles eventually finished 15th.

“Trevor was really fast,” Lessard said. “I was trying to save as much as I can and keep up with him at the same time. I knew if I would save a little bit I would have a shot at it at the end. He got caught with a lapped car at the end and I thought that was my chance so I went for it.”

Lessard said winning at The Last Great Colosseum was a major thrill. He was enamored with the traditional gladiator sword that BMS presents each of its major winners in Victory Lane.

“When you see those names up in the stands, the drivers who have won here in the past, it’s really great,” Lessard said. “Now to know that you are part of it, it’s amazing. I can’t believe it.”

The complete results can be found below.

  1. Raphael Lessard
  2. Stewart Friesen
  3. Corey Heim
  4. Mason Mingus
  5. Tyler Ankrum
  6. Connor Okrzesik
  7. Jared Fryar
  8. Anthony Cataldi
  9. Jon Beach
  10. Josh Brock
  11. Nick Grodi
  12. Stephen Nasse
  13. Austin Kunert
  14. John Coffman
  15. Trevor Noles
  16. Hunter Jack
  17. Logan Runyon
  18. Steve Wallace
  19. Jeff Gordon
  20. Billy Van Meter
  21. Allen Karnes
  22. Greg VanAlst
  23. Steve Renner
  24. Jack Dossey III
  25. Jake Crum
  26. Jerry Fortner

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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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