History is typically written by the winner but both Steve Wallace and Raphael Lessard have reached many of the same conclusions in the year since they last dueled for the win in the 2017 Redbud 400 at Anderson Speedway.
There was beating and banging by both parties and Wallace ultimately delivered the final shove that propelled him to one of the biggest wins of his career.
In the immediate aftermath of the race, Lessard said it was a case of the always-aggressive “Steven Wallace doing what Steven Wallace is going to do” in one of the most emotional outbursts of his career. For his part, Wallace felt like the shove was fair play because it didn’t wreck Lessard.
More bluntly, he said he couldn’t afford to just lay down, since he works on his cars himself, and that “you would have to put a bullet in me to stop me.”
It was a great race, with a great finish, with even greater quotes.
On Monday, Wallace maintained no regrets on how he raced Lessard, and the 17-year-old admitted that perhaps he learned a lesson about racing on that cool summer night last July.
“Maybe,” Lessard said when asked if he would have done anything differently. “It’s a big race and we both wanted to win. I was in a position to get moved. It is what it is. I watched the race over the weekend to prepare for tonight. It was an awesome race. A hell of a show. I just wish it turned out differently.”
Wallace said he’s learned some things over the years, too. He’s the first to acknowledge that he has a sordid history of being too aggressive and bordering on dirty. But that’s not entirely the case now.
“As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I really respect what it takes to win these races,” Wallace said. “I’ve had a lot of bad luck this year. We’ve built really fast cars. But we’ve broken parts, gotten crashes, flat tires – you name it.
“But I work on my cars, got some really good people around me, and you want to win when you get the chance. There’s a way of racing people hard, using the bumper without wrecking someone, and that’s what happened. But when I said what I said last year, it’s because I know how hard it is to win these races.”
Both drivers said they were on autopilot in the closing laps of the race.
“You’re just reacting,” Lessard said. “Instinct. Everything happens so fast here. You have to be on your game in every corner.”
Dick Trickle once said racing at Anderson was like flying fighter jets in a gymnasium, something Bristol Motor Speedway adopted from the high banked quarter mile.
“You’re just doing whatever it takes to win in that scenario,” Wallace said. “That’s what makes this fun. You don’t realize some of the things you did until it’s over. That’s what makes this the best form of racing, in my opinion.”
The Redbud 400, and a possible Wallace vs. Lessard rematch, will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. RT. The race will air live on Speed51.com for $19.99.