Raphael Lessard Makes His First Kansas Start

Raphael Lessard

Events: Kansas 200, Race 9 of 23, 134 Laps – 30/30/74; 201 Miles (Friday)
Kansas Speedway 200, Race 10 of 23, – 30/30/74; 201 Miles (Saturday)
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Date/Broadcast: July 24, 2020 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
July 25, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. ET FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

Racing with Raphael:

Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 Mobil 1 team head to Kansas Speedway for a doubleheader weekend, where the 19-year-old Canadian driver will make his first start in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at the 1.5-mile oval. In six mile-and-a-half starts this season, Lessard has an average start of 14.3 and an average finish of 16.5 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.
For this weekend’s unprecedented Truck Series doubleheader, teams will be required to use the same truck that they raced on Friday night in Saturday afternoon’s event or they will have to start from the back of the field. Saturday’s starting lineup will be based off the finishing order of Friday night’s event with an inversion of the top-15 finishers. Friday night’s winner will start 15th on Saturday and the 15th-place finisher will start on the pole Saturday.

So far in 2020, Lessard has eight starts, with an average starting position of 14.0 and an average finishing position of 19.5. The Toyota Racing Development Driver’s season-best finish was an 11th-place result at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. 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 308 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 23 poles, 115 top-five and 170 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Kansas Speedway, Hillman has 13 Gander Trucks starts and his drivers have earned one win (Todd Bodine, 2005), five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, with an average start of 12.8 and an average finish of 9.2.

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.
*Richelieu Hardware joins the No. 4 Tundra as an associate partner for this weekend’s doubleheader event at Kansas Speedway. The Quebec-based group that manufactures, imports, and distributes specialized hardware and complementary products for the furniture, construction and woodworking industries will have their logo displayed on the bedtop of Lessard’s Toyota for both races this weekend.

Have you and Mike Hillman Jr. discussed of how the track conditions will change from Friday night with a night race and Saturday being an afternoon race?

“Yeah. I talked with Mike about it. The first race is going to be at night, and it will be pretty hot. The second race is going to be in the afternoon. This is going to be really hot, less grip. I feel like we are going to have to make good adjustments on our Mobil 1 Tundra. For the second one, it will be a lot slicker. We will see. I’m sure we will be really good. Mike has a lot of experience and should give me a really fast truck.”

With knowing that this weekend is a doubleheader and you’re required to use the same truck in the second race Saturday, will you be mindful of how you race people and what moves you make in Friday’s race?

“Yeah – for sure. You are going to have to be careful with your truck in the first race, especially because you want to run the same truck the next day. It’s going to be good for me not having much experience and no practice. The first race I will be able to use it as a practice. Hopefully we can make our Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra better for the second race with everything I’m going to learn in the first race. The first one is at night, and the second one is in the afternoon. The heat and temperature are going to be different. We will see. I’m sure we will be really good. I’m really excited to go to Kansas.”

Will you ask Kyle more questions about Texas and what he felt from the handling of his truck versus what you felt knowing that was the last race this year that he will be in the same race as you?

“Yes – for sure. I will ask Kyle some questions about it. I’ve already asked a little bit in the post-race meeting. It’s always good to have him race. It was his last one, and he’s really good. I’m trying to learn from him, and I’m trying to gain more experience. Hopefully we can be as fast as him at some point of the season, but I’m sure it will happen. It is going to take a little bit of time and a little bit more experience and seat time. We will get there. You just have to stay positive and keep working on it. We will keep on getting better and better. After Texas, I know what we I could have done better. It’s just part of it. We will focus on Kansas this weekend. I’ll ask some good questions to Kyle, and hopefully we can get a great finish.”

Raphael Lessard Career Highlights:

Across 13 career Truck Series starts has produced two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 16.3.
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.

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.

Raphael Lessard’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Tundra:

KBM-056: The No. 4 Mobil 1 team will unload chassis number KBM-056, which has been raced six times. Most recently, Raphael Lessard piloted the chassis earlier this year to an 11th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


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