Lessard Looks To Build On First Texas Race

Raphael Lessard

Event: SpeedyCash.com 400, Race 21 of 23, 147 laps – 35/35/77; 220.5 miles
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Date/Broadcast: Oct. 25, 2020, at noon. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

Racing with Raphael

Lessard and the No. 4 CANAC team head to Texas Motor Speedway for the second time in 2020. Earlier this season, Lessard finished in 12th at the 1.5-mile track after battling a tight-handling Toyota Tundra for most of the event. After a disappointing 33rd-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, the CANAC team looks to rebound this weekend in Texas.

So far in 2020, Lessard has 20 starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series with one win (Talladega Superspeedway), two top-fives, five top-10s, an average starting position of 12.8 and an average finishing position of 16.1. On 1.5-mile tracks this season, Lessard has an average finish of 17.9 in 10 starts, with a best result of 11th twice: at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in June and in the second Kansas race in July.

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 320 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 23 wins, 23 poles, 117 top-five and 175 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Texas, Hillman has six wins (Todd Bodine: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and Jeb Burton: 2013), 11 top-fives, 13 top-10s, an average start of 9.7 and an average finish of 11.0 across 26 starts.

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.

Raphael Lessard Texas Q&A

This is your first time getting back in the CANAC Tundra since your win at Talladega. Will it be sentimental when you climb aboard your truck on Sunday?

“It’s going to be the first time with CANAC on board since the Talladega win, so I’m excited for it. We had a great race at Talladega and won my first race with them. Hopefully we can go out and do it again. I’m excited. Texas is a fun place and really fast. I’m excited to go back there and get a great result.”

You’ve tested and raced at Texas already this year. How beneficial will that be as you prepare for this weekend’s race?

“I tested at Texas at the beginning of this year, and we raced there in July. It was a lot of fun there. We struggled with our handling when we were there. We were way too tight. We are going with something I think is going to be really good. I’m excited for it. Hopefully we can get a better result than the last time and maybe contend for the win. That is the goal. We are going to go hard. I’m ready to bounce back from Kansas.”

You finished 12th at Texas in July. What do you have to do to improve upon that finish this weekend?

“We finished 12th when were at Texas, which is pretty good because we were way too tight handling wise. I felt that the PJ1 that they put hurt us. Every time I would jump into the PJ1, it would make me way tighter. We are going with something different. I’m excited. I think we should be really good there. I’m looking forward to getting something way better than 12th place. We don’t want to finish 12th again. We know that we can do way better than that.”

Raphael Lessard Career Highlights:

Across 25 career Truck Series starts has produced one win (Talladega Superspeedway), two top-fives, seven top-10 finishes and an average finish of 15.1.

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.

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

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