Miami, FL. (November 15, 2019) – Raphael Lessard Racing announced today that the young Quebec driver will compete in the 23 events of the 2020 season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS). He will drive the Toyota Tundra No 4 truck prepared by the leading team in the series, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). Raphael Lessard is once again making history by becoming the second Quebecer and the youngest full-time Canadian driver ever in the prestigious NASCAR Truck Series. The 2019 was a turning point for Raphael Lessard, and 2020 will be the first stage of his full-time professional career in motor racing at the senior levels.
“We’ve watched Raphael grow as both a driver and a person since joining our Super Late Model program in 2018 and we’re looking forward to being a part of his continued progression as he graduates to a full-time role in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series next year,” owner Kyle Busch said. “Similar to Erik Jones and Christopher Bell before him, Raphael joined our Super Late Model program and immediately won some big races. Then, when given a part-time Truck Series schedule, they all proved capable of running up front and earned the right to compete full time. Erik and Christopher went on to win races and a championship in trucks, now Raphael has the opportunity to continue to follow their blueprint.”
During the 2019 season, Raphael Lessard competed in three NGOTS events with KBM: Martinsville Speedway (Virginia, USA), Dover International Speedway (Delaware, USA) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Tennessee, USA). The results achieved at each truck race and in other series (races and private test sessions), impressed the specialists, particularly at KBM for which he drove during three test sessions, including in a car to be raced by Kyle Busch himself in preparation for a prestigious Super Late Model race. It is unusual to see a young driver inspire such confidence in a top-notch team and, given the results, KBM quickly approached Raphael Lessard for the 2020 season in NASCAR trucks.
“Raphael has continued to prove himself as an outstanding race car driver,” said Jack Irving, Senior Manager, Commercial Director, Toyota Racing Development. “He has shown poise behind the wheel and has achieved solid results in the opportunities he’s been presented with thus far.
We look forward to watching him grow and achieve even more with this full-time opportunity in 2020 behind the wheel of a Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra.”
Raphael Lessard will do everything possible to exceed the objectives set for him by TRD and KBM. Since the age of 11 – and even before – Raphael Lessard has been preparing to perform in the highest levels of NASCAR. From daily physical training to simulator and on-track time, his days are committed to his motor racing career.
“I’m so happy as we’ve worked very hard in recent years to become part of the Kyle Busch Motorsports team and secure a full-time ride in one of the three top NASCAR series. It’s incredible, a dream come true! I can’t thank Kyle and the whole team at KBM, Toyota and TRD enough for the trust they put in me. This would not be possible without the support of my parents, and all those who made this dream come true,” commented a very excited driver.
“I can’t imagine how much of an experience it will be for me to travel so much next year to cover the 23 races, discover new tracks, work with the same team members every time out. I am sure that our effectiveness and communications will improve and make for better setups and race strategies. I’m going to also focus on being more efficient in everything I do on and off the track, I can’t wait!” added the driver who becomes the youngest Canadian ever to do a full season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography2019 Season
- 22 Races – 7 different types of vehicles:
- 6 podiums including 2 wins
- 10 top-5s
- 18 top-10s
Several Series :
- 5 NASCAR Gander Outdoors pickup races: two top-10 finishes & fastest time in Dover
- 3 ARCA races
- 1 race in K&N Pro East
- 2 races in NASCAR Pinty’s, 1 victory
- 5 races in NASCAR Late Model, 3 podiums
- 1 race in Super Late Model, double track record
- 2 races in Sportsman Dirt, 2 podiums
- 2 races in LMS
- 1 race in Pro Late Model
ABOUT RAPHAEL LESSARD
Born on July 5, 2001, in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Raphael Lessard is one of the most promising prospects in North American oval racing. Raphael made his debut in stock-cars in 2013, on local tracks in the Quebec City area. His exceptional talent quickly allowed him to climb the ladder and attract the attention of David Gilliland, a former NASCAR Monster Energy Series driver and now a team owner, in 2015. An agreement then allowed Lessard to participate in the last four races of the season in the PASS North Tour Series.
In 2016, his first full-time season with Gilliland Racing, Lessard won the CARS Super Late Model Tour title with four wins, 8 top five and 9 top drivers to win a major stock car series title in the United States. Since 2016, Lessard has been part of the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) prestigious driver development program. To date, he is the only Canadian to have been recruited into this program.
2018 – 16 races – Super Late Model with Kyle Busch Motorsports
- Two wins, seven top-5s and 13 top-10s
- Wins the U.S. Short Track Nationals race at Bristol Motor Speedway
- Wins the Red Bull 400 at Anderson Speedway
- Leads 60 laps at the famous Snowball Derby in December, before a mechanical problem puts him out of the race with only six (6) laps to go.
2017 – Competes in 20 Super Late Model races and two ARCA series races
- Two wins and eight top-5 finishes in the Super Late Model category
- A top-10 from two races in the ARCA series
- Voted the most popular driver in North America by Speed51.com
- Voted as one of the top 10 drivers to watch in 2017 by Speed51.com
- Named by Speed51.com Short Track Power Ranking as 7th best driver in the United States
2016 – Participates in 10 races
- CARS Super Late Model Series Champion
- Youngest Canadian driver to win a prestigious stock-car series in the United States
- Four wins, eight top-5s and nine top-10s in 10 races
ABOUT KYLE BUSCH MOTORSPORTS
Since debuting in 2010, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has quickly established itself as one of the most successful teams in all of NASCAR. Owned by 2015 Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and fueled by his passion for winning, his organization holds the Gander Outdoors Truck Series records for most team wins (75) and most team wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series record six Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers; Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
KBM prepares a fleet of race-winning Tundras out of a state-of-the-art 77,000-square-foot facility in Mooresville (N.C.) Fans can keep up-to-date with all the latest KBM news online at KyleBuschMotorsports.com, by liking the team on Facebook (KBMteam) and by following the team on Instagram (KBMteam) and Twitter (@KBMteam).
Toyota (NYSE:TM), creator of the Prius hybrid and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota and Lexus brands. Over the past 60 years, we’ve built more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 44,000 people (more than 34,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.6 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.
ABOUT FRL EXPRESS Inc.
F.R.L. Express Inc. is a general transportation company founded in 2004 by François Lessard. Its main field of activity over the last 15 years is general transport in closed trailers over short and long distances in Canada and the United States. FRL currently have about 50 employees in addition to about ten tow carriers. FRL owners are proud of the progress made in recent years thanks to the FRL team members and wishes to continue on this positive note. “Our employees, customer service and satisfaction are our priorities. We are all proud to be partners in the success and achievements of our son Raphael Lessard,” state the proud parents.