NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview
Event: Vet Tix Camping World 200 (Race 3 of 23), 130 Laps – 30/30/70; 200.2 Miles
Location: Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway (1.54-mile quad-oval)
Date/Broadcast: March 14, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Racing with Raphael
- Raphael Lessard and the No. 4 Mobil 1 team head to Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway on Saturday for the Vet Tix Camping World 200, where the 18-year-old Canadian driver will make his first start in any series at the 1.54-mile quad-oval . Lessard has one career start on a 1.5-mile oval, earlier this season at Las Vegas. There he started eighth but finished 30th after a late race incident. He is in his first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and is competing for Rookie of the Year honors with veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.
- So far in 2020, Lessard has two starts, with an average starting position of 8.0 and an average running position of 12.8, but due to bad luck near the end of both races has been relegated to an average finish of 25.0 despite running well. He is currently ranked 18th in Gander Trucks driver points standings and fifth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
- Lessard made five Gander Trucks starts in 2019, 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.
- While Lessard may be a newcomer to the Gander Trucks, Hillman Jr. has plenty of experience. The veteran crew chief has 302 Gander Truck Series starts under his belt, with 22 wins, 115 top-five and 170 top-10 finishes with drivers including Todd Bodine, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch and last season, Harrison Burton. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hillman has 15 Gander Trucks starts and his drivers have earned one win, six top-five and 11 top-10 finishes, with an average start of 8.2 and an average finish of 9.5. His win came from the pole with Bodine in the 2006 event at the Georgia track.
- The world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, Mobil 1, features anti-wear technology that provides performance beyond our conventional motor oils. This technology allows Mobil 1 to meet or exceed the toughest standards of car builders and to provide exceptional protection against engine wear, under normal or even some of the most extreme conditions. Mobil 1 flows quickly in extreme temperatures to protect critical engine parts and is designed to maximize engine performance and help extend engine life.
Raphael Lessard, Driver Q&A
You came to Atlanta last year as a spectator, how do you feel going this year to make your first start?
“I’m really excited. I feel like I’ve learned a lot the first two races this year. I’m just ready to get back in my Toyota Tundra. It’s been a while. I’ve felt like Kyle Busch Motorsports has brought in the past couple of years, very fast trucks to Atlanta, so I think they have a lot of experience there. They’ve got a good base setup. I am ready to learn a new racetrack. Last year, I was in victory lane as a spectator with Kyle Busch. Hopefully we can be there as a driver this time.”
Now that you have some experience on 1.5-mile tracks, do you feel more confident going into Atlanta?
“That gave me a lot more confidence than I had before going to Vegas because now I know what to expect. I don’t think it will be exactly the same because it is a way different racetrack. The tire actually falls off a lot there. I think it is going to be a lot different, but I know what to expect. I am just ready to learn, get better and do my best.”
How have you prepared for this weekend?
“I’ve watched a lot of film. I watched as much in-car as I could. I watched Kyle’s in-car from last year. I watched the races from two and three years ago. I went to the simulator. TRD has a really nice sim that we can work on. I think it is going to help me a lot. My Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra is going to be really good I’m sure.”
Raphael Lessard Career Highlights
- Across seven career Truck Series starts has produced two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 15.1.
- 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 Mobil 1 Tundra:
KBM-056: The No. 4 Mobil 1 team will unload chassis number KBM-056, which was raced five times by Harrison Burton in 2019, with a best result of third at Pocono Raceway. Most recently, Burton piloted the chassis to a seventh-place finish at Phoenix Raceway last season.
KBM Notes of Interest
- Across 20 starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, KBM drivers have earned two wins (Christopher Bell 2017, Kyle Busch 2019), two poles (Christopher Bell 2017 and Kyle Busch 2018), seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 5.8 and an average finish of 12.6.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (76) 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).