By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Kyle Busch Motorsports will introduce another young talent to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series when Raphael Lessard makes his debut at Martinsville Speedway in March. The 17-year-old Quebec, Canada native will compete in three Truck races for KBM.
Lessard will drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra at Dover International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway in addition to Martinsville. The Canadian teenager joined KBM last season in super late model competition.
“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”
Lessard joins a long list of drivers that have ascended through the Toyota Racing Development system into the Truck Series including Christopher Bell, William Byron, Noah Gragson, Erik Jones, and Bubba Wallace. In 2017, he made his ARCA Racing Series debut with Venturini Motorsports. Lessard finished 10th at Winchester Speedway in his second series start.
“It’s rewarding as an owner to see the progression of young drivers like Raphael, and Erik Jones and Christopher Bell before him, that start out in our Super Late Models as part of the Toyota Racing Development program and are able to turn that into an opportunity to compete in the Trucks Series,” owner Kyle Busch said.
Lessard won the 2018 U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway and Red Bud 400 at Anderson Speedway for KBM. In 16 super late model starts for KBM, he also earned three pole positions, seven top-five, and 10 top-10 finishes. Lessard was in position to win the prestigious Snowball Derby, having lead 68 laps, before a fluid leak ended his day with nine laps to go.
“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” Busch explained. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”
In the CARS Super Late Model Tour, he has six victories, 15 top-five, and 18 top-10 finishes in 23 starts.
In 2016, Lessard finished inside the top-10 in the All-American 400, Winchester 400, and the Snowball Derby. He also won the 2016 CARS Super Late Model Tour Championship, winning four races, earning eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 10 races while competing for David Gilliland Racing.