Raphael Lessard Demonstrates His Maturity In The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Series

may 4, 2019

Dover, (Delaware, USA), May 4th, 2019 - Raphael Lessard's performance in his #46 FRL Express Toyota Tundra | Spectra Premium truck right from the first practice and laps in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series race impressed everyone who works with him. The young Canadian driver recorded the fastest lap in the first test session (Thursday, May 2nd) among the 32 drivers on track, and set the sixth-quickest time in the second session. Raphael Lessard qualified in seventh position (0.316 sec. from pole) and started fifth after the driver in front of him on the grid had changed his engine and was relegated to the back of the grid by NASCAR officials. Moving up and down from sixth to fifteenth position during the race, Raphael fought tirelessly to a well deserved eleventh place finish.

This race was the first time Raphael Lessard drove on this unique and quickest of the intermediate tracks because of the high banking. The two Thursday sessions (a total of two hours on the track), showed that Raphael Lessard added to his level of professionalism during each outing, understanding more and more about race strategy and its effect on suspension setup, and on communicating more effectively with his team members. The crew made several changes to the truck during both sessions, starting by quickly repairing an oil leak in the first few minutes on the track, before focusing on correcting the excessive oversteer.

A methodical approach saw the team members from the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team repeat several iterations of changes and testing it on the track for a few laps. The team also mounted new tires and ran a mock qualifying run to prepare for the real one on Friday (May 3rd).

"I felt comfortable from the beginning. I learned more of the characteristics of the track and how to reduce my lap times at each outing. During my fastest lap at the end of the first session, with new tires, I was also careful to find their limit when cold," explains the driver who is fully committed to the project. The qualifying session confirmed the high level of competitiveness in this series (With 21 drivers in the same second behind the pole lap time).


Starting from fifth place on the grid, Raphael Lessard remained in the top-10 until the 46th of the 200-lap race (stage 1). He restarted the race on lap 48 from thirteenth place, dropping to fifteenth (stage 2 - lap 100). He then fought with a few other drivers over positions 10 to 12, all the way to a lap 195 yellow flag, the one Raphael Lessard did not want, as he dropped to a hard-fought eleventh place off the restart when tenth place had been within reach.

After the race, Raphaël Lessard analyzed what happened lucidly: "I am still learning everything after only two races at the wheel of my Toyota Tundra #46 FRL Express | Spectra Premium race truck. The understeer was acute right from the start of the race, and I adapted my driving to compensate. I had never noticed the effects of the air on the truck on slower tracks I am used to, but I certainly did feel it here because Dover is so fast. When I followed two or three trucks in a small pack, I no longer received any air on the front of the truck and it would lose downforce and increase the understeer, making passing even more difficult. In addition, the narrow track forced everyone to drive very close to each other at very high speeds, something that I got used to quickly. In fact, I have learned a lot in this race, and I am satisfied with the improvements," added the driver who shows his growing skills and maturity with every presence on the track.

Read the complete press release here

Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography