David Gilliland Racing

(Image courtesy David Gilliland Racing)

Canadian driver Raphael Lessard back with David Gilliland Racing in 2016

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Canadian driver Raphael Lessard will return for a second season of driving a Super Late Model in the 2016 CARS Tour for David Gilliland Racing.

A native of Quebec, Lessard will once again pilot the No. 99 Toyota Camry as a development driver. Gilliland, a veteran NASCAR driver, began a development driver program in 2015 to offer a path for aspiring racers to transition from Karts or Legend Cars to larger NASCAR-style race cars.

Lessard learned his lessons from Gilliland well last season, finishing seventh in the points, including three top-10 finishes in the PASS North Super Late Model Series.

“David put together a great program with amazing people and I can’t wait to start where we left off last season,” Lessard said in a media release. “I am also looking forward to continue working with my crew chief Seth Smith and everybody at DGR.”

Lessard’s first race of 2016 is next week at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway in the 50th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in the Pro Late Model division.

In addition to competing on the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) circuit (first race will be the CARS Tour 300 on April 2 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina), Lessard will also compete in several PASS South Series Super Late Model races.

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NASCAR Next’s Nicole Behar to drive for David Gilliland Racing in 2016

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NASCAR Next driver Nicole Behar will take the next step in her racing career development, competing in 2016 for David Gilliland Racing.

One of 12 members of the 2016 NASCAR Next class, Behar will split much of her time between racing on the CARS Tour Series for Super Late Models and the Pro All Star Series South (PASS). She’ll also do some select K&N Pro Series West races.

A fifth generation racer from Otis Orchards, Washington, Behar will drive the No. 97 DGR Toyota Camry with sponsorship from Custom Welding & Fabrication.

The new ride is part of a driver development program that Gilliland began in 2015, which according to a media release is “for aspiring racers to make the transition from Karts, Legends Cars and Quarter Midgets to bigger NASCAR-style race cars.”

Although only 17, Behar has been racing for nearly a decade. In 2015, she was named the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, where she finished 10th in the standings with two top-fives and nine top-10s.

That included setting K&N West history with the highest finish by a female driver, taking second place in a race at Irwindale, California.

“I am very excited to team up with Toyota and David Gilliland Racing for the 2016 season, providing me not only the opportunity to run the CARS Tour and PASS Series, but a great experience beneficial to my racing career,” Behar said in a media release. “I believe that DGR has the equipment, resources and knowledge capable to run up front.

“Along with the full Super Late Model schedule I will be running select NASCAR K&N Pro Series races as well as some races on the west coast. We are focusing on getting me as much seat time as possible working with multiple racing series.”

Behar’s first race for DGR will be a PASS race on March 5 at Dillon (South Carolina) Motor Speedway.

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