VALLEE-JONCTION, QC (June 27, 2019)- For the past three years Raphael Lessard has been noted as one of Canada’s best and brightest upcoming stars.
Since signing with Kyle Busch Motorsports as a development driver, Lessard has been making waves in the United States in the ARCA Menard’s Series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and recently scoring his first Gander Trucks top ten, at Iowa Speedway. However, there was one major event listed on Lessard’s bucket list: racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in front of his home crowd at Chaudiere.
“I started racing at Chaudiere when I was 11 years old,” Lessard said. “It was always fun to watch all those guys like Andrew Ranger, and the rest of the Pinty’s guys compete. I kept telling myself, I’m going to be racing against those guys one day.”
It’s been a deal roughly two years in the making, but Lessard finally will run his home Pinty’s Series event. In a deal with Dumoulin Competition, the 18 year old from St-Joseph de Beauce, Quebec will pilot the No. 07 Dodge and serve as a teammate to defending champion LP Dumoulin.
“We kind of wanted to do it last year, but it didn’t work out,” said Lessard. “I said we’re going to make it happen this year. We found a good partner who was ready to sponsor us for this race. I think it was the perfect opportunity for us to do it this year. I’m super excited.”
Being a Canadian in some of NASCAR’s top American series is a huge honour for Lessard, since there have only been a handful in the past 15 years. Being able to represent both Canada and his home province of Quebec, Lessard feels he has received the warmest reception by fans and competitors alike. Working with the likes of Kyle Busch and David Gilliland have only served to help grow Lessard’s skill at a much quicker rate.
“I’m trying to do my best to represent everything as well as I can,” said Lessard. “I think that that’s paying off because every time I go in the US, everyone is cheering me and I got a bunch of fans in the US and Canada. It’s always awesome. I think it’s great to see how many fans and people are following me on social media.
“A guy like Kyle Busch is a good teacher because he is one of the best” Lessard added. “So every time he talks, I listen. David also gave me a bunch of advice. So it’s, it’s really cool. It’s helping me a lot in my career to work with guys like this.”
Lessard isn’t nervous to race in front of his hometown crowd, but his expectations are to go out and compete to put his No. 07 car in victory lane for the first time in his NASCAR career. Lessard aims to try to compete in a few Pinty’s road course races to get him ready for the Chevy Silverado 250 at CTMP in August.
“I’m going to take it easy at first get used to the car,” Lessard said. “I know the track really, really, really well. So that’s going to help me a lot for my first Pintys race. I’m going to have to go out and do my best and with the team with like Dumoulin Competition, the race is going to be great.”
NEWS & NOTES
The Budweiser 300 marks this season’s first stop in Quebec for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. Autodrome Chaudiere has hosted five NASCAR Pinty’s Series races, with Andrew Ranger winning last year’s race. He became the second Quebec driver to win at the track, joining Alex Labbe (2016).
The series will return to Quebec on August 11 at Trois-Rivieres before making its third – and final – stop in the province at Saint-Eustache in September.
100 Career Starts for LP Dumoulin
LP Dumoulin will reach a very important milestone this week as upon taking the green flag he will log his 100th career NASCAR Pinty’s Series start. The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native’s career has spanned nearly 10 years during which Dumoulin has won two championships and seven races.
“We are confident that our team is ready for the Autodrome Chaudiere race this weekend,” said Dumoulin. “We came up with effective suspension settings at the track test last Tuesday that will produce consistent lap times and a strong point finish.
“This is virtually a home race for us and the support from the Quebec fans will make it a fun day for everyone.”
Lacroix Vs Ranger Heads into Quebec
Kevin Lacroix and Andrew Ranger have been building a friendly rivalry over the course of the first two races of the season. At CTMP it was Ranger who raced Lacroix hard yet clean, watching Lacroix return to victory lane. The following week at Jukasa, it was Lacroix repaying the favour, racing Ranger clean in the last restart.
With the two drivers separated by a single point in the standings, eyes will be on the quarter-mile bullring to see which driver will get the edge in this clean and competitive rivalry.