After an absence from the Midwest racing scene, the Thaw Brawl dirt late model special returns to the LaSalle Speedway on March 26-27.  

Lessard Tops First Truck Practice On Bristol Dirt

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Whether it was due in part to favorable track conditions early, or “just a little bit of luck,” Raphael Lessard paced the opening round of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice Friday on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Lessard, driving the No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado, turned a best lap of 19.384 seconds (92.860 mph) on his 11th of 31 tours around the .533-mile, dirt-covered high banks.

The 19-year-old Canadian almost looked perplexed when giving his account of his fast lap after the end of the session. Lessard came into the weekend with no competitive dirt experience in his racing career.

“I’m not sure, honestly, how we did it,” Lessard admitted. “I guess it’s a lot like driving in the snow back home [in Canada]. Thanks to everyone at GMS Racing for building a fast Chevy Silverado. We’ve been spending time at a local dirt track [Millbridge Speedway] with a micro sprint trying to get ready. We knew the race track would change throughout the session, but I’m really happy to be P1 early.

“There’s a long way to go, though.”

Lessard was among a handful of NASCAR national series drivers to tune up for the Bristol dirt weekend by turning laps at the sixth-mile Millbridge dirt oval prior to coming to The Last Great Coliseum.

“It’s two different things, but every little bit helps,” he noted.

Carson Hocevar, who has run on dirt in the past at the Tulsa Shootout, was second-quick for Niece Motorsports at 19.396 seconds (92.803 mph).

He was followed by Hailie Deegan’s David Gilliland Racing-prepared Ford, with another Ford in Chase Briscoe and the Toyota of Stewart Friesen filling out the top five spots on the speed charts.

Sixth through 10th were Todd Gilliland, Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum and Brett Moffitt.

Gilliland had the fastest 10-lap average during first Truck Series practice, at 91.525 mph.

There were numerous spins during the session, with Danny Bohn and Jake Griffin sharing the dubious distinction of having the most trouble. Both drivers had a pair of spins during first practice.

Even dirt dominator Kyle Larson, who won 46 times in various dirt cars a year ago, wasn’t immune. He did a 360-degree spin inside of 10 minutes to go in opening practice. Larson ended up 12th quickest.

Final practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes place at 5:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1.

PRACTICE RESULTS: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Bristol Motor Speedway; March 26, 2021

  1. #24 – Raphael Lessard, 19.384
  2. #42 – Carson Hocevar, 19.396
  3. #1 – Hailie Deegan, 19.418
  4. #04 – Chase Briscoe, 19.432
  5. #52 – Stewart Friesen, 19.465
  6. #15 – Tanner Gray, 19.483
  7. #38 – Todd Gilliland, 19.502
  8. #2 – Sheldon Creed, 19.525
  9. #26 – Tyler Ankrum, 19.579
  10. #45 – Brett Moffitt, 19.588
  11. #4 – John Hunter Nemechek, 19.592
  12. #44 – Kyle Larson, 19.603
  13. #23 – Chase Purdy, 19.620
  14. #88 – Matt Crafton, 19.688
  15. #21 – Zane Smith, 19.695
  16. #17 – Kevin Harvick, 19.706
  17. #22 – Austin Wayne Self, 19.725
  18. #99 – Ben Rhodes, 19.729
  19. #62 – Jessica Friesen, 19.760
  20. #33 – Myatt Snider, 19.811
  21. #98 – Grant Enfinger, 19.821
  22. #11 – Bubba Wallace, 19.849
  23. #34 – Jake Griffin, 19.879
  24. #75 – Parker Kligerman, 19.881
  25. #56 – Mike Marlar, 19.883
  26. #13 – Johnny Sauter, 19.899
  27. #18 – Chandler Smith, 19.901
  28. #49 – Andrew Gordon, 19.935
  29. #51 – Martin Truex Jr., 19.970
  30. #30 – Danny Bohn, 19.993
  31. #9 – Codie Rohrbaugh, 20.036
  32. #3 – JR Heffner, 20.069
  33. #16 – Austin Hill, 20.069
  34. #40 – Ryan Truex, 20.104
  35. #41 – Cody Erickson, 20.113
  36. #25 – Timothy Peters, 20.145
  37. #19 – Derek Kraus, 20.205
  38. #39 – Ryan Newman, 20.233
  39. #6 – Norm Benning, 20.635
  40. #12 – Tate Fogleman, 20.734
  41. #83 – Trevor Collins, 20.841
  42. #02 – Daniel Suarez, 20.894
  43. #20 – Spencer Boyd, 21.169
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