Raphael Lessard: Fifth for the start at Richmond Raceway

Raphael Lessard: Fifth for the start at Richmond Raceway NK Photography Photo

Raphael Lessard will take part in his sixth NCWTS race of the season this Saturday on the wide, nearly flat 0.75-mile oval at Richmond Raceway at the wheel of his #24 CANAC Silverado. His performance and that of his GMS Racing team impressed everyone at Bristol, and Raphael Lessard is going for another podium finish this coming weekend. His performance on the Bristol dirt surface confirmed his ability to adapt and learn quickly, and demonstrated his level of professionalism after only one full season in a NASCAR series, and despite the odd circumstances imposed by the pandemic. Raphael Lessard Racing team members are working to find the necessary financing to participate in all 22 races of the season.

"We are well prepared for Richmond this weekend. This is my second race at this track, and the experience I gained over the 2020 season will allow me to drive faster and to quickly adapt my driving to the behaviour of my #24 Silverado CANAC truck over the race distance. The track surface is hard on the tires and I have to drive smoothly to protect them. I am comfortable on a short track like Richmond with its low banking in corners 1 and 2. The entrance to turn 3 is almost flat and you have to be careful when braking not to slide the rear tires, which wears them out too quickly. My CANAC truck will be fast and I'm sure it will be great for the race," says Raphael Lessard with enthusiasm.


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.