By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
GMS Racing adds another up-and-coming driver, Raphael Lessard to its team for the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
The St.-Joseph de Beauce, Quebec native will run 12 races for the 2020 Truck Series championship winning team. Lessard joins 2020 champion Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum, Chase Purdy, and Zane Smith at GMS. The 19-year-old is working to find sponsorship for the remaining 10 races. Lessard’s 12 races in 2021 are to be determined.
“We are very excited to have Raphael join GMS Racing for part of the 2021 season,” said Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing. “I believe Raphael will be a great addition to our GMS stable and I look forward to seeing him wheel one of our Chevrolets.”
2020 marked Lessard’s rookie campaign with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). He earned his first career win at Talladega Superspeedway. Lessard earned a total of four top-five and seven top-10 finishes during the 2020 season.
“I learned an incredible amount in all aspects of racing during the 2020 season, explained Lessard. “(I learned) about pure driving skills, race strategies, aerodynamics, passing and making it difficult for others to pass me, adapting my driving to compensate for any handling issues and helping the team understand any issues to fix them at the next stop, focusing better on my driving despite any adversity.
“The win at Talladega certainly helped the team and myself gain confidence, and also convinced us that we were able to race with the best and win.”
Prior to his first full season in 2020, Lessard competed in five Truck Series races in 2019 between KBM and DGR-Crosley. He earned two top-10 finishes in both of his starts with DGR.
Lessard’s 2021 move marks the second time he’s shifted from one championship winning organization to another. After winning the CARS Tour Super Late Model championship with DGR-Crosley in 2016, the Canadian moved to KBM in 2018. Lessard was the first Canadian to win a CARS Tour championship in the series current form. He finished fourth in points in 2018 with KBM after missing one race.
“Finding myself with the best team of the 2020 season is unbelievable,” admitted Lessard.” They won the championship! I can’t wait to show what we can do aboard such great machines. The team knows how to bring potential winners at every race, a key to a great season. Our team will be great, and I can’t wait to be back on track.”
A number and crew chief for Lessard’s Chevrolet Silverado will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, the sophomore driver has a simple goal, to compete on track as much as possible.
“To do as many races as possible,” Lessard stated. “I would like to win races and above all finish in the top five in every race, as well as continue to improve my driving.”
Photo by Andrew Coppley / Harold Hinson Photography