Raphaël Lessard: Driver, No. 4 JBL | Canac Toyota
Event: Vankor 350 (Race 8 of 23), 167 Laps – 40/40/87; 250 Miles
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Date/Broadcast: July 18, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET on RDS, FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
** RDS and RDS DIRECT will present all races of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 2020 season.Racing with Raphaël
- Raphaël Lessard and the No. 4 JBL team head to Texas Motor Speedway, where the 19-year-old Canadian driver will make his first start in the NASCAR Truck Series at the 1.5-mile oval. Lessard has five career starts on 1.5-mile ovals, where he has an average start of 14.8 and an average finish of 17.4. 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. While he has not made a start at the Texas track, he did participate in a rookie test alongside his KBM teammate Christian Eckes in early March.
- So far in 2020, Lessard has seven starts, with an average starting position of 13.7 and an average finishing position of 20.6. 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, 55 points behind Johnny Sauter for the 10th and final spot for the playoffs, 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 307 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 Texas Motor Speedway, Hillman has 25 Gander Trucks starts and his drivers have earned six wins (Todd Bodine: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010; Jeb Burton: 2013), 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes, with an average start of 9.5 and an average finish of 11.0.
- JBL creates the amazing sound that shapes life’s most epic moments. From iconic events like Woodstock and concerts at Madison Square Garden, to games at Yankee Stadium and weekend road trips, JBL elevates listeners’ experiences with award-winning audio that lets them make the most of every moment. With unmatched professional credentials and over 70 years of delivering industry leading innovation, JBL is the authority in engineering superior sound. JBL is part of the HARMAN portfolio of brands admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform around the world. HARMAN designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide, including connected car systems, audio and visual products, enterprise automation solutions; and services supporting the Internet of Things. More than 50 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. In 2017, HARMAN became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
- CANAC – Leader in Renovation for Over 145 Years, 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.
Raphaël Lessard, Driver Q&A
It’s expected to be in the mid-90s when the race starts on Saturday. How do you prepare for racing in extreme weather conditions?
“Well, it is supposed to be really hot at Texas this weekend, but I’m really lucky to be part of a great organization like TRD. They have a gym for us drivers that we can go to with a coach that know everything we have to do be in good shape and be prepared for those really long races and hot days. I’ve been pushing really hard the past few weeks in the gym… since the beginning of the year I’ve been pushing really hard. I’m just ready for it. I’m in really good shape right now, and I can’t way to see how good of shape I’m in in the heat of Texas.”
You were able to participate in a rookie test at Texas earlier this year. How did it go and what were you able to learn?
“Yes, we tested at Texas at the beginning of the year for a rookie test. I felt like it went really good. I didn’t have much experience on big racetracks, so I think we are going to better when we go back this weekend. I learned a lot with the races on big racetracks we’ve had this year so far. The test I learned that (Turns) Three and Four are different than (Turns) One and Two. One and Two is pretty flat going in and flat going off the corner. It is very hard to judge to see how much speed you can carry in One and Two because you are a little bit on edge compared to Three and Four, where there is a lot of banking and wide open all the time. We will see. I thought we were good at the test. We had a great JBL Toyota Tundra, so hopefully we can be really good this weekend.”
It’s your first start in any series at Texas. From what you have seen in preparing for the race and being able to test there, will the racing be similar to what it was at Kentucky last week with being hard to pass?
“Yeah – It’s my first start at Texas, and I’ve never ran there before besides the test. I feel like what I’ve learned from watching film and being there that it is going to be hard to pass like Kentucky. Kentucky was a one groove racetrack. This year it was the outside working for us and everyone else, so It was very hard to pass. For Texas, I feel like with the heat and how hot it is going to be that everyone will be fighting for the bottom, especially in (Turns) One and Two. We will see. There is going to be a lot of drafting, timing your runs, and timing your pass right. I’ve been studying. I’m ready for it. I’ve talked with my crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. and my team about it. I feel like we should be really good. Hopefully we can get a good race going for JBL this weekend.”Raphaël Lessard Career Highlights:
- Across 12 career Truck Series starts has produced two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 16.7.
- 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.
Raphaël Lessard’s No. 4 JBL Tundra:
KBM-059: The No. 4 JBL team will unload chassis number KBM-059, which has been raced five times. The last time this chassis was used was at Phoenix Raceway in November with Chandler Smith.
KBM-62 Performance Profile
- Starts – 5
- Wins – 0
- Average Start – 6.6
- Average Finish – 6.6
- Laps Led – 3
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected seven wins, three poles, 862 laps led, 15 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.9 across 47 starts in the Lone Star State.
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch’s victory in last March’s race was his third for his organization (2010, 2014 & 2019). Greg Biffle completed the 51 team’s season sweep of Texas last year with a win in June. Erik Jones earned a win in November 2015; William Byron took the checkered flag in June of 2016 and Christopher Bell went to Victory Lane in June of 2017.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (78) 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).
Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota Tundra 2020 NGROTS Box Score:
Date / Site / Driver / Start / Finish / Laps / Laps Led / Status / Driver Pts./Pos/
2/14 /Daytona /Raphaël Lessard /8 /20/ 105/106 /0 /Running /24/14th
2/21 /Las Vegas /Raphaël Lessard /8/30 /90/134 /0 /Crash /39/18th
5/26 /Charlotte /Raphaël Lessard /20 /15 /134/134 /2 /Running /61/15th
6/6 /Atlanta /Raphaël Lessard /19 /18 /136/136 /0 /Running /84/15th
6/13 /Homestead /Raphaël Lessard /14 /11 /134/134 /0 /Running /114/13th
6/27 /Pocono/Raphaël Lessard /14 /37 /5/60 /0 /Crash /119/15th
7/11/Kentucky/Raphaël Lessard /13 /13 /71/71 /0 /Running /143/15th
**Press Release prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports
Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography