NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview
Baptist Health 200 (Race 5 of 23), 134 Laps – 30/30/74; 201 Miles
Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
June 13, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Racing with Raphael
Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 Mobil 1 team head to Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, where the 18-year-old Canadian driver will make his first start in any series at the 1.5-mile oval. Lessard has three career starts on 1.5-mile ovals, where he has an average start of 15.6 and an average finish of 21. He is in his first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and is competing for Rookie of the Year honors with veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.
So far in 2020, Lessard has four starts, with an average starting position of 13.8 and an average running position of 20.8, He is currently ranked 15th in Gander Trucks driver points standings and fifth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
Lessard made five Gander Trucks starts in 2019, three of those with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). Across his five starts he posted two top-10 finishes while recording an average starting position of 10.4 and average finish of 11.1.Lessard’s strongest run came in his final start of the season when he was running inside the top five with under 30 laps remaining before getting spun and relegated to a 12th-place finish.
While Lessard may be a newcomer to the Gander Trucks, Hillman Jr. has plenty of experience. The veteran crew chief has 304 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 115 top-five and 170 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Hillman has 13 Gander Trucks starts and his drivers have earned two wins, six top-five and six top-10 finishes, with an average start of 11.5 and an average finish of 10.
Due to Lessard’s presence in the series, all 23 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series races this season will be broadcast throughout Canada on RDS and RDS DIRECT.
The world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, Mobil 1, features anti-wear technology that provides performance beyond our conventional motor oils. This technology allows Mobil 1 to meet or exceed the toughest standards of car builders and to provide exceptional protection against engine wear, under normal or even some of the most extreme conditions. Mobil 1 flows quickly in extreme temperatures to protect critical engine parts and is designed to maximize engine performance and help extend engine life.
Do you feel that your background in Super Late Model races helps you on1.5-mile tracks where there is heavy tire wear?
“Yes. I think it definitely helps racing super lates around those worn out racetracks where you have to be aggressive at the same time. I feel like it doesn’t hurt. Atlanta was kind of the same. Homestead is probably going to be similar to that, if not worse. I’m ready for it. I feel like we are getting better as a team. I’m getting better with more experience. It’s very tough without practice and qualifying, but it is the same for everyone. We have to learn a new racetrack again this weekend, but hopefully we can be even better.”
Do you feel like you are making improvements racing on 1.5-mile tracks? What do you still need to improve on?
“Yeah — I feel like we are improving, getting better as a team and working better together. Me and my crew chief Mike Hillman, Jr., I think we are getting there. I am improving on my performance. I feel like I’m getting better at feeling the truck and learning the racetrack quicker. It is very challenging without practice and qualifying, but I love it. I love what I am doing right now. I am hoping for a better finish. I think we can get a good top-five at Homestead. We will keep on working and studying Homestead, while getting better working as a team. I’m sure my Mobil 1 Tundra will be very good this weekend.”
Raphael Lessard Career Highlights:
Across nine career Truck Series starts has produced two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 15.4.
In 2019, Lessard posted 83 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across three ARCA Menards Series starts and one win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. His Pinty’s Series victory came at his hometown track, Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, on June 29 when he led a race-high 153 laps en route to the sentimental win.
Won two marquee events driving KBM’s famed No. 51 Super Late Model in 2018; the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway in May and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson Speedway in July.
Overall in 16 starts for KBM in 2018 split across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series, posted two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018.
Started seventh and led 68 laps in the prestigious Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., in 2018
Captured the 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour championship after recording four wins, one pole, 157 laps led, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes across 10 races.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!