NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series Overview
Event: NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Race 1 of 23), 100 Laps – 20/20/60; 250 Miles
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval superspeedway)
Date/Broadcast: Feb. 14, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN and Sirius/XM NASCAR 90
Racing with Raphael
- Friday night, in the NextEra Energy 250, will mark Raphael Lessard’s first ever start at Daytona International Speedway in any discipline. The 18-year-old Canadian driver will embark on his first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the No. 4 JBL Tundra with veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.
- While new to Daytona, Lessard is not new to the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, having made five series starts last season, three of those with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). Across his five starts he posted two top-10 finishes while recording an average starting position of 10.4 and average finish of 11.1. Lessard’s strongest run came in his final start of the season when he was running inside the top five with under 30 laps remaining before getting spun and relegated to a 12th-place finish.
- In addition to a limited schedule in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series last season, Lessard posted 83 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across three ARCA Menards Series starts and one win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. His Pinty’s Series victory came at his hometown track, Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, on June 29 when he led a race-high 153 laps en route to the sentimental win.
- While Lessard may be a newcomer to Daytona, Hillman Jr. has plenty of experience for the both of them. The veteran crew chief has called the shots for 13 starts and two wins at Daytona, both coming with Todd Bodine in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Hillman Jr. also has eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes as a crew chief at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway, with an average starting position of 8.8 and an average finish of 9.4. In total, Hillman Jr. has 300 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 115 top-fives and 170 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton.
- JBL will adorn the hood and sides of the No. 4 Tundra at Daytona. JBL creates the amazing sound that shapes life’s most epic moments. From iconic events like Woodstock and concerts at Madison Square Garden, to games at Yankee Stadium and weekend road trips, JBL elevates listeners’ experiences with award-winning audio that lets them make the most of every moment. With unmatched professional credentials and over 70 years of delivering industry leading innovation, JBL is the authority in engineering superior sound. JBL is part of the HARMAN portfolio of brands admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform around the world. HARMAN designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide, including connected car systems, audio and visual products, enterprise automation solutions; and services supporting the Internet of Things. More than 50 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. In 2017, HARMAN became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Raphael Lessard, Driver Q&A
What are your thoughts on going to Daytona for the first time?
“It’s going to be a dream come true, for sure. Growing up, I watched races at Daytona, and I was like ‘Oh my God, I want to be there one day.’ Now it’s going to be my first time there and my first time on the race track so that’s really cool. And I’m just really thankful for the opportunity and to everyone back home, a big thanks to my family, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota, JBL and Mobil 1 for all their support.”
Your team has a lot of experience at Daytona, so does that give you extra confidence?
“For sure. I know Mike has won there before, so he knows what he’s doing, and he’s got some advice to give me. I’m going to take as much advice as I can, from him, from Kyle. It’s a new style of racing for me. It’s a lot of drafting, aerodynamics and that sort of stuff. I’ve studied a lot of video and I think I’m ready. I think I’m at the point in my career, and you’ve got to do it at some point, so this weekend is going to be my time to race at Daytona, first time ever.”
What are your expectations for this year?
“I don’t have a lot of expectations. It’s my first year full-time in the Truck Series, and I don’t have that much experience in the Truck Series, but I’ve got five races under my belt and each race was better and better. My plan is just to keep getting better and focus 110 percent every time I go on the race track and learn a lot and I think if I do that, we’re going to have a great result.”
Raphael Lessard Career Highlights
- In 2019, Lessard posted 83 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across three ARCA Menards Series starts and one win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. His Pinty’s Series victory came at his hometown track, Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, on June 29 when he led a race-high 153 laps en route to the sentimental win.
- Won two marquee events driving KBM’s famed No. 51 Super Late Model in 2018; the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway in May and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson Speedway in July.
- Overall in 16 starts for KBM in 2018 split across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series, posted two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018.
- Started seventh and led 68 laps in the prestigious Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., 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.
Raphael Lessard’s No. 4 JBL Tundra:
KBM-026: The No. 4 JBL team will unload chassis number KBM-026 for the season opener event at Daytona International Speedway. This chassis was used last year at both Daytona and Talladega with Harrison Burton recording an 11th-place finish at Talladega.
KBM Notes of Interest
- KBM drivers have collected one win, two poles, 81 laps led, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 17.0 across 25 starts at Daytona
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch picked up the organization’s only victory at Daytona in the season opener in 2014, narrowly besting fellow Toyota competitor, Timothy Peters.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (75) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers; Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).