Raphael Lessard Heads To First ‘Dega Race

Raphael Lessard

Event: Talladega 250, Race 19 of 23, 94 laps – 20/20/54; 250.04 miles
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile superspeedway)
Date/Broadcast: Oct. 3, 2020, at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

Racing with Raphael
Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 CANAC team head to Talladega Superspeedway for the first time in 2020. This will be Lessard’s first career start at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Earlier this season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Lessard finished inside the top 10 in each of the opening stages before the rookie driver was caught in late-race chaos and sustained damage that relegated him to a 20th-place finish.

So far in 2020, Lessard has 18 starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series with an average starting position of 12.9 and an average finishing position of 16.0. His season-best finish was on the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where the Canadian driver finished in the third position.
Lessard made five Gander Trucks starts in 2019, three of those with 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 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway 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, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. has plenty of experience. The veteran crew chief has 318 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 23 poles, 116 top-five and 174 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Talladega, Hillman Jr has 11 career starts, two wins (Todd Bodine, 2007 and 2008), three poles (Todd Bodine, 2007; Jeb Burton, 2013; David Gilliland, 2018), six top-fives, seven top-10s, an average start of 5.7 and an average finish of 8.1. Drivers under Hillman’s leadership have led 105 laps.

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.

CANAC is the first independent hardware and building materials store chain to open in Quebec City. Its expertise of over 145 years of experience allows CANAC to perpetuate the spirit of the hardware stores of yesteryear in a modern environment, with qualified personnel trained by its continuing education centre accredited by Emploi-Québec. CANAC serves both individual customers and contractors and offers aggressive prices that defy all competition. Since its acquisition by Groupe Laberge in 1985, the company’s expansion has focused on opening new modern hardware stores and on renovating existing branches to better adapt them to the needs and expectations of consumers. Today, CANAC has 30 branches and employs more than 3,400 part-time and full-time workers.

Talladega will be the 400th race for the Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The manufacturer has recorded 197 wins in the series, including 79 from KBM, and eight driver championships, including KBM drivers Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).

Raphael Lessard Talladega Q&A

Did you enjoy your first superspeedway race earlier this year at Daytona?

“Going to Daytona earlier this year for my superspeedway race was awesome. We ran in the top-five most of the race. It was a lot of fun being in the pack for the first time drafting like that. I’m excited to go to Talladega. I know we’re going to be able to compete and be up front most of the race going hard at it and being aggressive.”

What did you learn in Daytona that you can apply to this weekend at Talladega?

“I feel like I learned a lot of things at Daytona like the draft and being in there with every other truck around you. Just that feeling of air and turbulence around you is crazy and knowing what that feels like going into Talladega will help me a lot. I feel like Talladega there is more space and room you can race on, At Daytona, it was really tight racing and sometimes you would get a little bit out of control. I feel like Talladega is going to be a lot better for that.”

Have you talked to anyone about what the differences between Daytona and Talladega will be?

“I talked to some people. I think Talladega there is a lot more space. It seems way bigger and a lot wider, so I’m excited. I feel like there is going to be a lot of room to race. It’s going to be who can push the best and which line can make the most speed out of it. I’m excited. I think we are going to have a good Toyota Tundra with CANAC. It should be great. I’m excited.”

Raphael Lessard Career Highlights:

Across 23 career Truck Series starts has produced one top-five, six top-10 finishes and an average finish of 15.0.

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 CANAC Tundra

KBM-026: The No. 4 CANAC team will unload chassis number KBM-026, which has been raced 11 times. Most recently, Lessard piloted the chassis to a 20th-place finish earlier this season at Daytona International Speedway. This Tundra has finished third twice at Talladega, with Myatt Snider in 2017 and again with David Gilliland in 2018.

KBM Notes of Interest:
Across 25 starts at Talladega, KBM drivers have collected one win (Kyle Busch, 2010), two poles (Christopher Bell, 2017; David Gilliland, 2018), seven top-fives, 15 top-10s, 60 laps led, an average start of 9.7, and an average finish of 10.6.

KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (79) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).


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