Raphael Lessard believes he should have been in victory lane instead of Noah Gragson on Sunday night in the Snowball Derby.
After all, the 17-year-old Canadian had beaten his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate head-to-head on multiple occasions throughout the afternoon and at one point led by an entire straightaway. Lessard left the final round of pit stops right behind his older teammate and would have lined-up second on the bottom but a fluid leak forced the hand of track officials, whom black-flagged him before the final two restarts.
Even an hour after the race, Lessard was still in his fire suit, slouched against his No. 51 in disbelief.
“It sucks,” Lessard said. “We were faster than (Gragson) the whole race. It is what is. I can say I’ve led laps in the Snowball Derby and dominated it.”
Lessard isn’t sure what he is going to do next year and it would have helped tremendously if the other KBM Toyota was in victory lane instead.
“It’s all luck,” Lessard said. “We needed a little more luck on our side. All year. I’m happy with this year and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been racing for Kyle Busch. That’s an honor. Who gets to do this? Race his car.”
Lessard raced his first two Late Model seasons for DGR-Crosley, winning the 2016 CARS Tour Super Late Model championship. The results were not there in his second season with DGR-C when they traveled to bigger events and tracks across the country.
It wasn’t much better in 2018 with KBM, although they won the Bristol Short Track Nationals and Redbud 400, two of the more prestigious events on the schedule.