Raphael Lessard Ready For the Start of His 2021 Season At Daytona. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)

february 9, 2021

Event: NextEra Energy 250, race 1 of 22 (100 laps - 20/40/100; 250 miles)

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

Practice | Qualifying: Thursday, February 11, 5:35 pm (EST) | Friday, February 12, 3:10 pm (EST)

Date | television: live on February 12 at 7:30 pm (EST), on RDS, Fox Sports Racing, FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90

The 2021 NASCAR season begins with good news for racing fans. RDS and RDS DIRECT will broadcast the entire NCWTS season and other NASCAR races to be determined as the season progresses. We'll see Didier Schraenen, Patrick Carpentier and Dominic Fugère describe and analyze a promising 2021 season.

Raphael Lessard can't wait to start his second full season in the NASCAR Comping World Truck Series (NCWTS) on February 12, at the legendary 2.5 miles (4 km) oval of the Daytona International Speedway (Florida, United States). The 19-year-old driver is counting on his accumulated experience to make the most of his talent aboard the #24 Silverado prepared by GMS Racing, the leading team in the series, and displaying the Canac colours.

Back at his racing base in Mooresville (North Carolina, United States) since January 5, Raphael Lessard can now describe his preparation with his new racing team and crew.

"I am incredibly happy to return to racing with GMS Racing. The team's professional approach to racing ensures that the five trucks they run in NCWTS and the one entered in the ARCA Menard series are all front runners and potential winners. I did notice that the Chevrolet truck I will drive this year is different (nose and fenders) from the ones I drove last year, making for very different aerodynamic behaviour in terms of stability in turbulence and the downforce vs drag trade-off," according to the driver of the Canac #24 Silverado.

In last year's Daytona race, Raphael Lessard was running in the lead pack with six (6) laps to go and a good shot at the win, when a loss of grip at the exit of corner 4 due to aerodynamic turbulence caused him to go into a long slide at over 180 mph and subsequently drop back to the rear of the field after a stop to replace a flat tire. The young driver then rejoined the race and finished in 20th place.

"This year, my preparation started the day after I arrived in North Carolina: fitness training with a new fitness coach and driving instructor, Josh Wise. We also had great technical sessions using an advanced simulator as part of the Chevrolet Drivers Edge Development program that fosters the development of young drivers who race under the historical Bow-Tie banner. The powerful simulator now includes important refinements in the areas of braking and running up against the wall on high-speed tracks. These improvements came up since the arrival of Kyle Larson (The specialist of rim-riding) in the Chevrolet racing family," added Raphael Lessard.

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.

"Testing and qualifying are back on the schedule at Daytona. I got used last year to start the race without having driven on the new for me tracks. The new rules will certainly be a plus for me, as we will be able to work on the set-up of the truck, as well as learn its behaviour in turbulent air generated in traffic, as well as communicate in real time with my crew chief and spotter. The team is already working as hard as they can as a tightly knit team, so it's nice to be in such a situation before the season even kicks off! Our objective is to achieve a top-5 result and to be in a strong position for the last few laps," added the driver who won his first race in NCWTS on October 3, 2020, in Talladega (Alabama, United States).

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.

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.