After losing his ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports, Raphaël Lessard is heading to the Chevrolet camp and GMS Racing. On Wednesday, he announced he will run a twelve-race schedule for GMS in the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but it can be increased to a full-time schedule with all twenty-two races if he finds enough sponsorship.
“We are very excited to have Raphael join GMS Racing for part of the 2021 season,” GMS president Mike Beam stated. “I believe Raphael will be a great addition to our GMS stable and I look forward to seeing him wheel one of our Chevrolets.”
Hailing from Quebec, Lessard rose through regional racing before crossing the border into the United States, where he has spent much of his stock car career in Toyotas. He made his Truck début in 2019 on a five-race slate with KBM and DGR-Crosley before upgrading to a full-time season with the former in 2020.
Besides COVID-19’s impact on the schedule, it was a rough start to the year for the Canadian as he failed to record a top-ten finish in the first ten races. During the late regular season stretch, he scored top tens in four of the next five races but missed the playoffs. However, he finally broke through for his maiden Truck Series victory at Talladega in October when he led in overtime as the caution came out, becoming the series’ fifth foreign-born race winner (and third Canadian). Lessard ended his rookie season with a twelfth-place points finish, seven top tens, and four top fives.
“I learned an incredible amount in all aspects of racing during the 2020 season, about pure driving skills, race strategies, aerodynamics, passing and legally 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,” said Lessard. “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.”
John Hunter Nemechek was announced as Lessard’s replacement in the KBM #4 on Monday. For the 19-year-old Lessard, he quickly refound his footing at GMS, a team that placed three of their four full-time drivers in the Championship Round in 2020, which new team-mate Sheldon Creed ultimately won. Lessard is not the only GMS driver move for 2021, with Chase Purdy being revealed as a full timer two weeks prior.
“Finding myself with the best team of the 2020 season is unbelievable,” Lessard added. “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.”
Specific races for Lessard were not revealed. However, it is likely that he runs the season opener at Daytona, also a superspeedway like Talladega.