Raphael Lessard Is More Focused On Winning Races

Raphael Lessard

Event: CarShield 200 presented by CK Power, Race 14 of 23, 200 Laps – 55/55/50; 200 Miles
Location: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Ill.(1.25-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Aug. 30, 2020 at noon ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

Racing with Raphael

Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 SiriusXM team head to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, where the 19-year-old Canadian driver will make his first NASCAR Truck Series start at the facility. 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 13 starts with an average starting position of 12.8 and an average finishing position of 16.3. The Toyota Racing Development Driver’s season-best finish was on the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where the rookie driver finished in the third position. He is currently ranked 14th in Gander Trucks driver points 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 313 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 23 poles, 116 top-five and 172 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Gateway, Hillman has nine Gander Trucks starts and his drivers have earned one win (Todd Bodine 2006), four top-fives, seven top-10s, an average start of 10.9 and an average finish of 8.2.
The Triple Truck Challenge concludes this weekend in the Gander Truck Series. This year’s program consists of the events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Aug. 21) and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 30).

On Sunday, NASCAR will implement a new pit road procedure. At stage breaks, teams may choose to pit, and the field is frozen. Teams will be granted three minutes to complete service during the break. If a team goes over the allotted time, they will be sent to the rear on the restart. All caution periods outside of stage breaks will be “quickie” yellows, which allows teams the opportunity to add fuel and/or make adjustments but not tires. NASCAR will work with teams on flat tires or damaged rims. This procedure is similar to what has been used at Eldora in recent years. Gateway is the only truck race that will use these procedures this year.

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.

Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) is the leading audio entertainment company in the U.S., and the premier programmer and platform for subscription- and digital advertising-supported audio products. Pandora, a subsidiary of SiriusXM, is the largest ad-supported audio entertainment streaming service in the U.S. SiriusXM and Pandora together reach more than 100 million people each month with their audio products.

Raphael Lessard | World Wide Technology Raceway Q&A

With being outside of the playoff picture right now, how will you approach the final three races of the regular season?

“From now on, our goal is to just win a race. We want to be in the playoffs. We have three more races. We are outside of the bubble right now. To make it into playoffs, we need to win. We are going to every racetrack. Our goal is going to be to win, not to gain any points. It’s going to be all about positioning ourselves at the end of the races to win. I have to work really hard this weekend to be able to do that. I feel like Gateway is going to be a good one for us. We’re going to have a good SiriusXM Tundra. I’m excited. We are going to go for the win.”

In studying for World Wide Technology Raceway, do you feel like it’s similar to any track you’ve raced at before?

“Yeah – I feel like Turns Three and Four are similar to New Hampshire. I’ve been there once in a late model when I was 14 years old. I don’t remember much about it, but I feel like it might help me figure out (Turns) Three and Four a little bit faster. One and Two are different. I feel like you are going to shift all race. Third to fourth and fourth to third in the center to get off really good. That’s going to be an interesting shift on an oval. I’m excited for it. I’m excited to learn a new racetrack again. I think we are going to be good this weekend.”

Despite not being able to practice each week, do you feel that by racing every week that you’re getting more comfortable with what you need to do to be successful in the truck series?

“Yeah – I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable even if we haven’t had any practice and qualifying. I’m getting more and more comfortable after all of those races this year. Besides Dover, that was not a good weekend for us at all. I feel like the last two, we were really good and competing for the win. We are going to go to Gateway the same way we approached Michigan and Daytona. We are going to go try and put ourselves in the playoffs by winning the race. That is what we are planning on. I think we know what we have to do to make it happen. We are just going to keep on working hard.”

Raphael Lessard Career Highlights:

Across 18 career Truck Series starts has produced one top-five, four top-10 finishes and an average finish of 14.9.

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 Bristo 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.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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