NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Overview
What You Need to Know:
- Raphael Lessard will make his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut driving the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra in Saturday’s 250-lap event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The 17-year-old Canadian driver graduates from the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Super Late Model program, where he competed in 2018, into a three-race Truck Series schedule for the organization this year, following in the footsteps of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) drivers Erik Jones and Christopher Bell.
- Lessard won two marquee events driving KBM’s famed No. 51 Super Late Model last season; the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in May and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway in July. Overall in 16 starts for KBM split across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the talented teenager posted two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018. He also competed in the prestigious Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. where he started seventh, led 68 laps and was in a position to contend for the win before a fluid leak ended his day with nine laps remaining.
- The talented teenager is looking to build off the momentum of an impressive run in the ARCA Racing Series event March 9 at 5 Flags Speedway. Lessard qualified fifth and methodically worked his way towards the front of the field once the green flag dropped. He took the lead from fellow TRD driver Chandler Smith on lap 39 and remained out front until he hit pit road under caution on lap 83. Lessard regained the lead from laps 123 to 160, once again giving up the top spot to hit pit road under caution. He restarted second when the field went back green on lap 166, but fell back to his eighth-place finish over the final 35-lap run due to what the team determined to be a bad set of tires.
- Michael Shelton will call the shots for the No. 46 team at Martinsville. Shelton was James Buescher’s crew chief when he won the Truck Series championship in 2012. Shelton has seven career Truck Series victories, including four with Buescher during their championship season. Shelton’s drivers have combined for two top-five and six top-10 finishes across 13 starts at Martinsville.
- As part of its partnership with TRD regarding the development of heat transfer units built to high-performance motorsports vehicles specifications, Spectra Premium will serve as the primary sponsor on Lessard’s Tundra Saturday and will also be the primary sponsor for the other two races on his schedule; May 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Aug. 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The Canadian-headquartered company will also serve as the primary sponsor on Todd Gilliland’s No. 4 entry Aug. 25 when the Truck Series heads north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ont.
- Based in Boucherville, Que., Spectra Premium is a North American automotive, light and heavy-duty truck parts manufacturer for the heating & cooling, fuel delivery and engine management systems. Since November 2018, Spectra Premium has become one of the few Approved Radiator Suppliers under NASCAR’s technical specifications for the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Spectra Premium cooling system engineers honed their stock-car racing expertise in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the highest national stock-car series in Canada, in which the radiator provided convincing results after only two years on the tracks.
How have you prepared for your NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut?
“I went to Atlanta a couple weeks ago to watch a truck race and see what a truck weekend is all about. I think it went pretty well — Kyle won that race and I got to be in victory lane for the first time. I’ve prepared by watching video — watching the race from last year. I went to the TRD simulator and that helped me a lot. I’m sure we are going to have a good weekend. I’m going to have to get used to the trucks. Those Toyota Tundras are a little bit different than what I’m used to in Super Late Models. I’m sure the truck is going to be good — Kyle Busch Motorsports always brings fast trucks to the races. It’s just going to be about me getting used to it.”
What do you know about Martinsville Speedway and have you raced on any tracks similar?
“I know that it’s a pretty tight little race track — long straightaways, tight corners. It’s all going to be about who is turning the middle of the corner the fastest. I’ve been to a couple of race tracks similar to this — like Greenville Pickens (Speedway). Even my home track is a quarter-mile and really tight. I’m used to those race tracks and we’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend.”
What does it mean to have Canadian headquartered companies backing you in the Truck Series?
“It’s really nice to have Spectra Premium onboard with us this weekend and to be affiliated with them. Hopefully we can grow the relationship in the future. Having the maple leaf on the car is going to be really awesome, hopefully it’ll be fun for Canadian fans to watch and hopefully draw the interest for more Canadian companies to come onboard as we are looking.”
Collin Francis, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Aftermarket USA at Spectra Premium
“We are thrilled and honored about this partnership with Toyota Racing Development. We are looking forward to closely collaborate with such exceptional racing engineers and champions by contributing to the temperature control of ever more competitive powertrains. We are very pleased at the opportunity of supporting Raphael’s first entry in this series as well as renewing with Todd for another race in Canada.”
Raphael Lessard Career Highlights
- Has collected 83 laps led and an average finish of 10.3 across three career ARCA Racing Series starts
- Won two marquee events driving KBM’s famed No. 51 Super Late Model in 2018; the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in May and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway in July.
- Overall in 16 starts for KBM split across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the talented teenager posted two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018.
- Captured the 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour championship after recording four wins, one pole, 157 laps led, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes across 10 races. He also finished inside the top-10 in three premiere events that year; the All-American 400, the Winchester 400 and the Snowball Derby
Raphael Lessard’s No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra:
KBM-30: The Spectra Premium/FRL Express team will unload KBM-30 for Saturday’s NGOTS 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The Tundra has made 12 career starts, all on mile-and-a-half tracks, since being built in 2015.
KBM Notes of Interest
- KBM drivers have collected six wins, four poles, 788 laps led, 20 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.3 across 47 starts at Martinsville
- Noah Gragson picked up the organization’s most recent victory at the 0.526-mile oval in October of 2018. Denny Hamlin and Darrell Wallace Jr. each have collected two victories while Gragson and owner-driver Kyle Busch have one win
- KBM holds the NGOTS records for most career wins (70) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record six Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers; Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
- The No. 46 team has recorded one win, one pole, 147 laps led, two top-five and seven top-10 finishes across 10 starts the last two seasons.