After a tumultuous 2021, Raphaël Lessard has landed back on his feet in the NASCAR national series world. On Thursday, SQR Development announced he will drive the #87 Toyota Supra in “select” Xfinity Series races for 2022, marking his first foray into NASCAR’s second tier. Specific races were not immediately announced, but the team previously expressed intent of débuting at Richmond Raceway on 2 April.
Lessard, a 20-year-old Canadian, was a regular in the Camping World Truck Series in 2020 as he finished twelfth in points for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Although he won at Talladega to become just the fifth race winner born outside the United States in Truck Series history, it was too little too late for him as he had missed the playoffs and was eventually ousted from his KBM ride at season’s end.
He moved to GMS Racing for what was initially a part-time 2021 schedule before he found enough sponsorship that would last him the full season. Unfortunately for Lessard, he was only able to run the first seven races before said funding dried up, leaving him without a seat yet again. His brief stint with GMS saw two top tens and a third at the Bristol Dirt Race.
While he did not race again in a U.S. NASCAR series, he spent August back home in Canada by competing in the Pinty’s Series, where he swept the first two races of the season at Sunset Speedway. He has three career wins in the division.
Created in December, SQR Development is run by former driver J.C. Stout, who previously raced as an owner/driver under the Stellar Quest Racing banner in the 2000s. The team’s chassis was purchased from Joe Gibbs Racing (a KBM partner) while Pro Motor Engines will supply motors.
“As a team just getting going this year, having someone like Raphaël Lessard drive some races for us is a pretty big deal,” Stout stated in a release. “We are looking forward to working with him and helping us out with his prior experience. He’s been to Victory Lane and has the drive and passion we are needing.”
#87 last appeared in the Xfinity Series in 2016 with Joe Nemechek, and his NEMCO Motorsports has traditionally used it across the three national series. The number has won nineteen Xfinity races, all by NEMCO as Nemechek contributed sixteen while Ron Fellows, a Canadian like Lessard, scored three as a road course ringer.