- Event: FR8 Auctions 200, race 4 of 22 (130 laps – 30/30/70-lap stages; 200 miles)
- Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (Georgia, United States – 1.54-mile oval)
- Date: Saturday, March 20, 2:30 pm (EST)
- Coverage: live on RDS, FS1, radio MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR
**RDS and RDS DIRECT (a numeric channel) will show every race in the NCWTS 2021 schedule.
Saint Joseph de Beauce – Quebec, Canada (March 16, 2021) – Raphael Lessard and his #24 Richelieu Silverado will be on track this Saturday, March 20th, for the second race of the season on a typical NASCAR track, the high speed 1.5-mile banked oval of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Raphael Lessard will run under the colours of Richelieu Hardware, a partner in 2020, who are returning by this year as principal partner for this event.
“Richelieu Hardware is pleased to reaffirm its support for Raphael and his team for the 2021 season. This ongoing commitment will allow him to drive a truck bearing exclusively the RICHELIEU colours during the Atlanta race on March 20. We all wish him the best of luck in achieving a well-deserved podium finish,” according to Richard Lord, President and CEO of Richelieu Hardware.
For Raphael Lessard, this renewed cooperation presents an ideal opportunity to further develop this win-win relationship. “I am very pleased to see Richelieu Hardware reaffirm their confidence in our team and come back to help us for this race. Partnering with leaders in their industry such as Richelieu Hardware is key to the success of our endeavour. I am convinced that this partnership will help both parties achieve their business and sporting goals.”
This is the second time the Saint Joseph de Beauce driver has visited the Atlanta oval. In 2020, Raphael Lessard was running in the top-5 group with two laps to go when a flat tire set him back to 18th place at the finish. On the plus side, that race was a great learning experience for the young driver as he prepares for this coming event.“The track surface at Atlanta is extremely hard on tires. You have to take advantage of the first few laps on new tires to gain positions, but always think about saving something for the end of a stage and especially the end of the race. We are driving at around 186 mph on the straights with very little downforce, which reduces grip everywhere. You can really feel it when braking at high speed on entering pit lane. You also have to be very careful not to go over the speed limit in the pits, something NASCAR is quick to penalise. Overall, my team and I did a good job in Las Vegas and really improved the truck for the last segment, which is promising for this race and the rest of the season. We are ready to win,” added to Raphael Lessard.
Raphael Lessard and the NCWTS
After five (5) races in NASCAR trucks in 2019, Raphael Lessard competed in all 23 races of the NCWTS in 2020, his first full season at that level. His first 10 races of 2020 served him well as he worked hard with a professional team, and against seasoned drivers.
He learned more advanced driving techniques from these experienced drivers as well as from his Spotter: learning new track quickly without a pre-race test or qualifying session, watching their driving trajectories and test new ones for himself as the track changes over the course of the race, managing downforce and turbulence, overtaking more effectively and protecting your position in the race, adapting to handling defects and adjusting his driving during a run, communicating effectively with the team during a run to describe any problems, managing front/rear braking distribution during a run, managing tire wear to optimize their performance at the end of the race and working in unison with team members during a pit stop.
The effects of this learning were clearly visible over the second half of the 2020 season, as Raphael Lessard caught and worked his way to the leaders several times to put himself in a position to win, as he did at Talladega, and accumulating four top-5 and seven top-10 finishes over the course of the season.
Raphael Lessard career highlights
Right from his start on the track at age 11, Raphael Lessard has raced throughout the Eastern Canada and then on to the United States, establishing a solid reputation as a driver to watch along the way.
In 2020, the young Beauceron decided to leap into professional racing and competed in all 23 races of the NCWTS series (formerly the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series). In 28 starts (five in 2019) in NCWTS trucks, Raphael Lessard has won one race, finished four times in the top-5 (two podiums), and nine times in the top-10, giving him an average finish of 14.5.
In 2019, Raphael Lessard led 83 race laps, finished twice in the top-5 and three times in the top-10 in three starts in the ARCA Menards Series. He earned a win, a top five and two top10 finishes in the NASCAR Pinty’s series. His NASCAR Pinty’s series win came on his home track, Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée-Jonction (Quebec, Canada), on June 29, after leading 153 of 300 laps on the way to an emotional win.
He also won two important Super Late Model Series races in 2018, including the U.S. National Short Track Championship at Bristol Motor Speedway in May, and the ARCA/CRA Super Series Red Bud 400 race at Anderson Speedway in July.
In 2016, Raphael Lessard won the CARS Tour Super Late Model Championship after recording four wins, one pole, leading 157 laps and finishing with eight top-five and nine top-ten finishes out of 10 races.
2021 Season – GMS Racing – NCWTS
Date/Circuit/Start/Finish/Laps/Laps Led/Status/Driver Pts./Pos.
Friday, February 19 – Daytona – 5/23/99/12/Running/33-8
Friday, February 19 – Daytona – (road) 12/26/51/5/Running/46-7
Friday, March 5 – Las Vegas – 13/30/130/0/Running/61-15
Saturday, March 20 – Atlanta –
Saturday, March 27 – Bristol Dirt –
Saturday, April 17 – Richmond –
Saturday, May 1 – Kansas –
Friday, May 7 – Darlington –
Saturday, May 22 – COTA –
Friday, May 28 – Charlotte –
Saturday, June 12 – Texas –
Friday, June 18 – Nashville –
Saturday, June 26 – Pocono –
Friday, July 9 – Knoxville –
Saturday, August 7 – Watkins Glen –
Friday, August 20 – Gateway –
Sunday, September 5 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park –
Thursday, September 16 – Bristol –
Friday, September 24 – Las Vegas –
Saturday, October 2 – Talladega –
Saturday, October 30 – Martinsville –
Friday, November 5 – Phoenix –
ABOUT RICHELIEU HARDWARE – https://www.richelieu.com/us/en/
ABOUT GMS Racing – https://www.gmsracing.net/
Chad Walter takes over as Crew Chief and Tyler Monn will act as Spotter for Raphael Lessard in 2021. Chad Walter has won five (5) races in 208 Xfinity starts as a Crew Chief. He led Tyler Ankrum to a spot in the 2020 playoffs in his first season as an NCWTS crew Chief. Tyler Monn, while still below 30, impressed key staff at Hendrick Motorsports last season. This year, he moves up the ladder as Kyle Larson’s spotter in the Cup Series as well as working with Raphael Lessard in NCWTS and making for an ideal scenario for the young driver’s second year of development.
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 tractors-trailer outfits. 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.
ABOUT RAPHAEL LESSARD – https://raphaellessard.ca/about
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