NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Overview
What You Need to Know:
- Raphael Lessard will make his second of three NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts this season piloting the No. 46 Spectra Premium/FRL Express Tundra at Dover (Del.) International Speedway Friday. The 200-mile event will be Lessard’s first start in any series at the one-mile oval.
- The 17-year-old Canadian driver had a solid Gander Trucks series debut in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He earned the seventh starting position, completed all 250 laps and brought his Toyota home in the 14th position.
- Since making his Gander Truck Series debut in March, Lessard got extra time behind the wheel of a Tundra when he participated in a two-day rookie test alongside Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammates Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in early April. Over the course of the test, he made over 300 laps around the half-mile oval where he is scheduled to make his final Gander Truck Series start of 2019 in August.
- In addition to his three-race schedule in the Gander Truck Series for KBM, Lessard has made one start in both the ARCA Racing Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and is scheduled to race in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in June at Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Junction, Que. Lessard qualified fifth and led a race-high 83 laps of the ARCA Racing Series event at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., in March before a bad set of tires on the final pit stop relegated him to an eighth-place finish. The talented teenager came from the 17th starting position to finish ninth in his K&N Pro Series East debut at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April.
- Michael Shelton will call the shots for the No. 46 team at Dover. Shelton was James Buescher’s crew chief when he won the Gander Truck Series championship in 2012. The North Carolina native has seven career Gander Truck Series victories atop the pit box, including four with Buescher during their championship season. Shelton’s drivers have combined for one top-five and four top-10 finishes across seven starts at Dover. His best result at the Monster Mile was a runner-up finish with Buescher in the 2010 event.
- 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.
- 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 for his three-race Gander Trucks schedule in 2019. 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.
After a solid debut at Martinsville, what is your outlook heading to Dover?
“I’m excited and I think I’m way more prepared than I was when I went to Martinsville for my first truck race. It’s going to be fun – it will be the biggest track that I’ve ever been on and I think it is going to be the fastest track I’ve been on too. I think I’m going to have a good Spectra Premium Toyota Tundra – Kyle Busch Motorsports is working hard on it to get it ready. I think it’s going to be a fun weekend and I’m going to learn a lot.”
Dover is a unique track, what are you doing to prepare for this race?
“I’ve watched a lot of video. I’m going to the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) simulator and I’ve talked to some drivers that have been there before. I’ve been waiting for a while for this one. Dover is called the Monster Mile for a reason – it’s really fast and its high banked. It’s a little bit like Bristol, but way bigger. I love Bristol, so I’m probably going to love Dover too. I’m excited and I can’t wait to get the first run in during practice – I think I’m going to have a good feel of it and it’s going to be about getting a good feel of it for the race.”
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 Friday’s JEGS 200 at Dover. The Tundra is the same chassis that Lessard qualified seventh and finished 14th with at Martinsville.
KBM Notes of Interest
- KBM drivers have recorded three wins, four poles, 820 laps led, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.6 across 22 career starts at the Monster Mile.
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch has earned all three of his organization’s victories at Dover (2011, 2013 and 2014).
- KBM holds the Gander Trucks records for most career wins (72) 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 11 starts while competing in a part-time schedule with various drivers the last three seasons. Owner-driver Kyle Busch captured the pole and led a race-high 109 laps en route to the No. 46’s inaugural victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August of 2017.