Lessard forced into a disappointing retirement at Snowball Derby

Lessard forced into a disappointing retirement at Snowball Derby
By: René Fagnan
Dec 3, 2018, 3:04 PM

Canadian teenager Raphaël Lessard was battling for the lead at the Snowball Derby when his car started to leak fluid on the race track, forcing him to retire from the race.

The annual Snowball Derby is one of the premier Late Model races in North America, a 300-lap test of short-track racing grit on a half-mile asphalt oval of Five Flags Speedway, in Florida.

Lessard put the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports FRL Express/Mobil 1/Toyota Camry 10th on the grid. He gained positions early in the race and then started a battle with his teammate Noah Gragson for the lead around the mid-race point.

On Lap 150, Lessard was in the lead followed by Jeff Choquette, Harrison Burton and Gragson. In fact, Lessard led some 60 laps of the race after that point.

After a big crash, the leaders pitted and won the race to the pit exit line. He led Lessard to the restart. They continued the fight, with Burton joining them.

During the last pit stop that followed the Lap 278 caution, Lessard stalled his car as the jack dropped. He was third for the last restart. With less than 10 laps to go, Lessard had to return to the pit lane as his car was leaking fluid on the track. The crew discovered that differential cover seal was leaking.

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The 20-year-old Gragson, a Las Vegas native, won the race in his swan song for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He led twice Sunday for a total of 12 laps, but it was the last six that mattered most after he passed pole sitter Harrison Burton following the last restart of the race.

“My car was just perfect,” Lessard claimed. “We dominated the race. I climbed from 10th place to first and lapped cars up to 12th position. I even had a half-lap advantage over the second-place runner.  It was just amazing. However, the track changed after my pit stop and exiting the corners became a more difficult. The late-race caution gave me the perfect spot in third place with my teammate in second place. Unfortunately, race control asked me to park my car as the differential was leaking fluid. I was going for the win, that’s for sure.”

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About this article

Series Stock car
Drivers Raphael Lessard
Teams Kyle Busch Motorsports
Author René Fagnan