After competing with Stewart Friesen through the final turns, a wreck in the backstretch would net Raphael Lessard the victory under caution at Talladega Superspeedway Saturday afternoon.
The win, by inches, is Lessard’s first career victory in his truck series career. The 19-year-old’s previous career-high finish was third at the Daytona road course on Aug. 16.
At the start, the field quickly formed into two lines and saw Austin Hill on the outside take the lead over Creed through the second lap of the race. Creed, however, cleared Hill and regained the lead swiftly after.
Hill and Creed jockeyed back-and-forth for the lead and exchanged it several times through the first five laps of the race. The inside lane, with Hill leading, remained intact and saw Hill pull ahead of Creed.
After Creed attempted to block the inside line, the No. 2 Chevy got loose. While Creed recovered, the back of the field packed together on the check and led to a wreck on lap 14. The resulting “big one” involved Zane Smith, Clay Greenfield, Johnny Sauter, Dawson Cram and Joe Nemechek, among others. The crash resulted in a red flag.
After the red flag was lifted, the field went back to green with two to go. Although Creed vaulted ahead of the field, Hill overtook him through the final turn of the stage and picked up the stage one victory.
Derek Kraus began stage two as the leader after the majority of the field did not go to pit road. A hard hit by Gus Dean on the inside wall brought out the caution on lap 36. As a result, Kraus won stage two under caution.
Brett Moffitt led the field at the beginning of the final stage. After a Tanner Gray and Todd Gilliland caution on lap 47, Moffitt again lead the field on the restart with 41 to go.
After Creed briefly took the lead, Sauter pulled ahead of the pack and lead until the field cycled through on their final pit stops. Although Jennifer Jo Cobb led the field for 16 laps, Creed would shoot ahead on the top lane and take the lead with 13 to go. The lead for Creed would not last long, as he picked up a flat and bring out the caution with six to go.
The restart with two to go saw Friesen out front. After Friesen and Lessard went toe-to-toe through the final laps, a wreck in the backstretch ended the race under caution and saw Lessard as the winner.
Christian Eckes finished 18th, while Todd Gilliland finished 28th. The finishes eliminated the two playoff drivers from championship contention.
The truck series will take a week off and begin the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 17. Coverage for the race will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST on FOX.
Playoff driver results:
Ben Rhodes – 4th
Brett Moffitt – 7th
Matt Crafton – 8th
Sheldon Creed – 12th
Grant Enfinger – 13th
Tyler Ankrum – 16th
Christian Eckes – 18th
Austin Hill – 19th
Todd Gilliland – 28th
Zane Smith – 33rd
Rhodes, Moffitt, Crafton, Creed, Enfinger, Ankrum, Hill and Smith advance to the round of 8.