WHAT WENT RIGHT: Led the points standings after all but two races in the regular season … Finished runner-up twice (Talladega, Daytona II) … Reached the Championship 4 for the second straight year despite not winning a race.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Failed to win a race for the fourth time since returning to Xfinity full-time in 2011 … Lost his chance at first NASCAR title in the championship race when he made contact with Ryan Preece in the closing laps while trying to keep teammate William Byron in reach. The contact resulted in a cut tire and an eighth-place finish. … Recorded three DNFs.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018: Sadler, 42, returns to JR Motorsports for his ninth full-time Xfinity season. He will once again be seeking an elusive NASCAR title after finishing runner-up in the Xfinity standings for the fourth time.
Kyle Busch, JGR teammates take four of seven fastest spots in first of two Cup practices
Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practices at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.
Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.
Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.
“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”
The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.
In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”