Raphael Lessard Learning Quick in Truck Series

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

For only the second time, Raphael Lessard will start a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. And for the very first time, he’ll strap into a racecar at Dover International Speedway.

However, heading into Friday’s JEGS 200, this kid is among those on the radar for the victory.

After leading opening practice Thursday in his No. 46 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, the 17-year-old Canadian backed it up in qualifying, lining up seventh for the 200-lapper.

“First practice, I was telling myself that I was just going to get used to the place,” Lessard said. “The first run out, I am like… it feels crazy. It feels like a roller coaster. That is what we did and we ended up P1.”

More than anything, it was the speed of the Monster Mile that got his attention.

“It is amazing how fast you are going here,” he said. “It is my first time at a race track like that, and it feels weird at first. You want to let your foot off the gas pedal, but your mind says not to because you want to go fast.

“But it was fun. First time here and to end up P1 in first practice was amazing.”

Making his debut at Martinsville in March, Lessard finished 14th in that event. Now making his second start at Dover and returning in August at Bristol, Lessard is simply thankful to have a ride in 2019.

“I was not even expecting to race this year,” he said. “We were not sure about anything. Kyle Busch Motorsports came up with three races and we got the funding together. And now I am here.”

Lining up behind champions like Brett Moffitt, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, Lessard knows it’s a big opportunity in his hands.

“I am going to just do my best to get as many opportunities as those guys,” he said. “They all get a lot of seat time and it’s only my fourth race this season. Just going to try to do my best and try to get as much seat time as I can.”

Goal No. 1 is to win.

“You always have to win,” he said. “You always want to win, but it is only my second truck race and my first time at a race track like this. The air is going to matter a bit here in passing guys. I think I am just going to hope for the best finish I can get and I am just going to do my best.”

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