An eventful 30th Truck Race for Raphael Lessard in Daytona. 7th In the Driver's Championship of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)

february 19, 2021

"I drove as hard as I could throughout the race.

Winning a stage is great, but I want more!"

Date: February 19, 2021

Event: BrakeFest Brake Pads 159 At Daytona Presented by O'Reilley (race 2 of 22)

Track: Daytona International Speedway (Florida - 3,56 road course)

Format: Three segments of 12 |13 | 19 laps

Start/Result: 12th | 26th (completed all the laps in the 51-lap overtime race)

Winner: Ben Rhodes from ThorSport Racing (Toyota)

Raphael Lessard once again demonstrated his talent on the Daytona International Speedway road course at the wheel of the Silverado #24 Canac truck prepared by GMS Racing. It was raining at the start of the second truck race of the season, and it was a learning experience for Raphael Lessard who was racing on a road circuit for the first time on a wet track. Twelfth at the start, according to the calculation of the algorithm, the 19-year-old Beauceron went into a spin after being pushed by one of his teammates on the first lap. Raphael Lessard was able to move up through the field from last place and win the second segment.

A second incident caused significant damage to the left rear bodywork of the Canac truck and, a few laps later, caused a flat tire that forced him to stop at the pits from seventh place, just a few laps from the end of the race. Raphael Lessard crossed the finish line in 26th position in a race punctuated by multiple caution periods and two overtime green-white-checkered flag restarts.

The Race From Raphael Lessard's Viewpoint

"After a good start from 12th position, I was hit and pushed off the track on the first lap, dropping to 30th position, with several slower drivers in front of me. I quickly climbed back up a dozen positions before a caution period on lap 7. I stopped for fuel and a set of new rain tires, and to make sure that nothing was rubbing against the bodywork. I restarted in 15th position on lap 12 and finished the first stage in 12th position. I restarted for the second stage from 7th place, then passed several quick drivers on the way to the lead for a few laps, and then winning the second stage and more of those important bonus points," explained the driver of the Canac #24 Silverado.

"I restarted from fourth place for the third stage and was involved in a few incidents that left me 15th on lap 30. I was then hit again at the rear on lap 36 when I was back up to 9th position. Everything looked OK to race safely despite this major impact. Then when I was back up to 7th place in the final laps, I had a puncture on the left rear tire. I restarted beyond 20th and ended up 26th place after several restarts. I want to thank Canac for their support and GMS Racing for the excellent teamwork throughout the race," said a slightly frustrated driver after such a good first half of the race.

Post-Race Comments:

Raphael Lessard's driving skills combined with the experience he acquired in 2020 has produced a winning combination. He now knows how to drive safely and protect his position in a high-speed pack, how to overtake efficiently, and shows the aggressiveness necessary for a winning driver. Raphael Lessard did not make any notable driving mistakes throughout this race. However, the importance of patience was emphasized by his team after the race. His new-found patience and his strategic attacks will serve him well over the rest of the season.

Pre-race Interviews

What are the main differences between driving on an oval and a road course?

"On a typical oval track (1.5 to 2 miles), we are driving at very high speed and in addition to the actual driving, we always have to look for the quickest trajectories for the truck as things continue to change on every lap. Track conditions are constantly changing due to the ambient temperature, humidity, oil and tire debris build-up. The behaviour of the car also changes (tire wear, under- and over-steer, a lighter rear end as fuel is used up). It is important to watch what the quick drivers are doing and also follow my spotter's advice to optimize each lap. On road courses, the turns are slower, and we have to drive using the full track width, always being precise and hit our reference points: braking, corner entry, apex, and the re-acceleration point at the exit of the corner in order to maximize speed on the straight that follows."

The GMS Racing drivers worked well as a team last weekend on the Daytona oval. Do you expect a similar cooperation on the road course today?

"Things are different on a big oval, as we drive in tight files and need help to pass, which we did very well last weekend with Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith. Everything changes on the road course, where you have drivers with different skills and comfort levels, shorter strait between the turns, hard braking that gives opportunities to overtake, too-fast corner entries that send drivers off the track coming out of the corners, the need to always drive through corners in a single file to avoid losing time on the narrow corners, and so on. It's almost impossible to stay together and really help each other. We always try not to harm our teammates, but we all want to win!"

Next Race - Las Vegas Motor Speedway - March 5, 2021

After a one-week break, Raphael Lessard and his Silverado #24 team will move to the hyper-fast oval of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Silver State 200.

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






Laps Led


Driver Pts./Pos.

Friday, February 12







33 / 8

Friday, February 19

Daytona (road)






46 / 7

Friday, March 5

Las Vegas

PhotoCredit: GMS Racing





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.