Raphael Lessard dominates the early part of the race at Daytona before being pushed against the wall six laps from the finish, dropping him to 23rd at the end

february 13, 2021

"I now have what I need to win!

Can't wait to get back to Daytona next Friday"

Date: February 12, 2021

Event : NextEra Energy 250

Track : Daytona International Speedway (Florida - 2.5 miles tri-oval)

Practice | Qualifying: 17 | 5

Stages: 20 | 20 | 60 laps

Start | Results: 5 | 23 (99 of 101 laps completed)

Winner: Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing (Toyota)

Daytona (Florida, United States) - February 13, 2021. Raphael Lessard and GMS Racing showed how competitive the #24 Silverado Canac is at the Daytona International Speedway (Florida, United States), when the young driver won the first stage and finished second in the second stage of the race on Friday night, and gained 19 important bonus points towards the Championship. An incident while he was running 6th with six laps to go pushed him into the wall, dropping the damaged #24 Canac truck to 23rd at the finish.

The Race From the Driver's Point of View

The race was a typical super oval event, with trucks running in two tight files that made it difficult to pass. Drivers needed to work as a team to gain ground, which the GMS Racing drivers did well throughout the event.

"After a good start, I kept my position for a few laps and then moved into first place on lap 13. We won the first 20-lap stage with the help of Sheldon Creed, my teammate and the reigning series champion. We worked well in the outside lane. The bonus points for such wins are important, and this is my first stage win ever," explained Raphael Lessard.

"We almost won the second stage by being aggressive and with the help of my new observer, Tyler Monn, who is very good, as he helped me move up to second place at the end of the 20-lap stint. Everything was looking good for the rest of the race," added Raphael Lessard.

"The last 60-lap stage forced everyone to make important decisions on when to make the one fuel stop that was needed to get to the finish. The team decided on a common strategy for all the GMS Racing drivers to ensure that we would continue to work effectively as a team as we made our way through the pack. We all made an early stop and were all together on the track for a final comeback. However, multiple caution periods late in the race allowed the other drivers to save fuel and make it to the end without stopping for fuel. We were now stuck behind the leaders and had to work very hard to get back to the front, even trying to start a third row on the outside with the help of my teammates, but that did not work. We did make up to the leaders with a handful of laps left in the race, but it was impossible to avoid the accident I was involved in. We all deserved better than that! "concluded a driver who was nevertheless very satisfied with his performance and that of the team.

Practice and qualifying

We asked Raphael Lessard two questions before the Thursday evening practice session.

Question 1: What is your state of mind before going out on the track?

"This year is very different from 2020. I am well prepared for this event. Last year, at this event, I had no idea of what to expect. Today, I have much more experience on the super ovals. I finished well and even won a race on a track similar to Daytona. I also have a more extensive understanding of how to handle the turbulence and how to drive in a tight pack."

Question 2: What is your plan for this practice session?

"All the GMS Racing drivers will make sure that the trucks are working as they should, with no basic problems such as a leak, for example. We will avoid pushing hard while we run through the main activities during the race: pit stops, communications, adjustments to make sure that the truck is ready for qualifying."

After the session, we asked him how things went for him and for his GMS Racing teammates.

"Everything went well. No problems to report after running a total of eight laps in practice. The truck did not hit the track surface anywhere, there was no rubbing between the tires and the bodywork, my entries into pit lane were quick, I stopped right on my spot in the pits, the radios were excellent, I adjusted the brake balance during the stop, and my pit exit was perfect. We also "scuffed"some new tires for the race to make sure they worked well right from the start coming out of the pits. We're ready to go! "explained the driver of the #24 Canac Silverado.

This conservative strategy from GMS Racing demonstrated their confidence in their work and in their drivers. They did not show the true potential of the Chevrolet trucks to the other teams and drivers. This left the other brands in the dark and forced into somewhat of a reactive rather than proactive race strategy based, on how the Chevrolet Silverado performed over short and longer stints, and in the turbulent air.

Next race - The Daytona road course - February 19, 2021

Raphael Lessard and the Silverado #24 Canac team return to Daytona next weekend for a race on the legendary road course built inside the large oval track. During the 2020 event at this location, Raphael Lessard was brilliant, given that this was his first race on this layout. Starting from the 10th grid position assigned to him by the draw used at that time, Raphael Lessard stayed close to the lead pack despite two slight off-track excursions and having to climb back up to the pack, something he is quickly becoming an expert at. In the end, he crossed the finish line in 3rd place after an impressive display of driving and teamwork.

"After the great performance of the car and the team today, I'm confident that we will do very well on the Daytona road course next weekend. I did well at this track in 2020 despite my lack of experience at the time. Now, it's a question of being in the right place at the right time! "concluded the confident driver.

Raphael Lessard clearly has the talent required to leave his mark and win in NASCAR. His entourage has known this since early in his career, and the GMS Racing team knows it now and told him so after the race. We can't wait for the road course in Daytona next week.

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)

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.