"We've seen Raphael grow as a driver and as a person since joining our Super Late Model program in 2018 and we look forward to helping him grow as he moves to a role on schedule." full in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors pickup series next year, "said team owner Kyle Busch. "Like Erik Jones and Christopher Bell before him, Raphael first joined our Super Late Model program and immediately won major victories. These two drivers then switched to the NASCAR full-time pickup series, as Raphael Lessard will do next season. And like his two predecessors, Erik and Christopher who have won victories and championship in van, Raphael has the opportunity to follow in their footsteps,
During the 2019 season, Raphael Lessard participated in three NGOTS events with KBM: Martinsville Raceway (Virginia, USA), Dover International Speedway (Delaware, USA) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Tennessee, USA). The performances achieved at each trip in a van or in other series (races and private test sessions), have marked the minds of specialists, including at KBM for which he piloted three preparation sessions, including a car dedicated to Kyle Busch himself in preparation for a major race in Super Late Model. It's not uncommon to see a young driver inspire such confidence in a top-notch team and, based on the results, KBM quickly approached Raphael Lessard for their planning for the 2020 NASCAR pickup season.
"Raphael has continued to demonstrate his skills as an outstanding racing driver," said Jack Irving, senior director and chief commercial officer at Toyota Racing Development (TRD). "He was cool at the wheel and always had solid results when the opportunities came up. We look forward to seeing him grow and accomplish even more with this full-time opportunity in 2020 with a Tundra van prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports. "
For his part, Raphael Lessard will make every effort to exceed the objectives of TRD and KBM. Since the age of 11 - and even before - Raphael Lessard is getting ready to realize his dream of flying in the higher reaches of NASCAR. From daily physical training, to simulator and outings on the track, every day is steeped in racing.
"I'm so happy, we've worked so hard in recent years to be part of the Kyle Busch Motorsports team and get a full-time ride in one of the three largest NASCAR series in the world, it's amazing, a dream which becomes reality! Exclaims Raphael Lessard. "I can not thank enough Kyle and the entire team at KBM, Toyota and TRD for their trust. This would not be possible without the support of my parents, of all those who made this dream come true. "
"I can not imagine how much it will be an experience to travel as much next year for the 23 races, including several tracks to discover. It will be really fun to work with the same teammates all season and improve every weekend with them, which will make us more efficient with settings and communications. I will give everything to be successful on and off track, I can not wait! "Says the one who becomes the youngest Canadian rider to make a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck full season.