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Hailie Deegan's NASCAR future is bright — remember the name

Mar 03, 2019 Hit: 114 Written by 
Hailie Deegan won her second career K&N Pro Series race in dramatic fashion this week.
Hailie Deegan won her second career K&N Pro Series race in dramatic fashion this week. Photo courtesy of NASCAR

Remember the name Hailie Deegan.


Just 17 years old, she earned her second career victory in the K&N Pro Series this week at the Las Vegas Dirt Track, and the win came via a thrilling last-lap pass. She now leads the points standings in the K&N Pro Series, the first female racer to do so.

She also made news this week by announcing she’ll run six races in the ARCA series this year for Venturini Motorsports, yet another opportunity for her to show she has the goods to make the leap to the big 3 NASCAR series.


What’s refreshing about Deegan is she’s not looking to move up just to move up. She wants to win and be strong at every level before she makes the next step, and at age 17 she has the time to do that. 


With the talent she’s shown thus far, I foresee her doing well in ARCA, and being in the Truck series within a couple years. A good performance there, and the proper sponsorship, and moving up to Xfinity is likely.

Cup is a whole different ballgame, but if it takes Deegan until she’s 23 or 24 to make it that far (and I think she will eventually get to Cup), there’s still plenty of time for a lengthy career, and it will likely be in strong equipment if she continues to show the type of talent she’s shown so far in her young career.

 


Deegan addressed the media this weekend after her big win. Read on for a full transcript.


HAILIE DEEGAN, No. 19 Monster Toyota Camry, Bill McAnally Racing

Talk about your race win last night and driving the Supra pace car tomorrow.

“This is a big weekend for me starting off with the win from the Las Vegas Dirt Track, which going into that race, I knew we were going to have to win. Last year, I got second, and I wasn’t happy with it. It was my first time racing with a stockcar on dirt. I am dirt racer and I wanted to prove we could be fast on dirt and get it done. I wanted to come into this year and really show we can be competitive during this K&N Pro Series West season and go after a championship. We’re here to win races and run for a championship. I am super excited to drive the Supra during the Xfinity race. I was able to drive it a little bit. It’s fast. I like it. I am into all the sports cars. Just going out there, it will be fun pacing the field. I have some friends racing in the Xfinity race. It will be cool to get on track.”


You made some news about your 2019 future plans; can you talk about that?

“Yes, I am doing six ARCA Series races with Venturini Motorsports. Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) put this opportunity together for me to be racing. The Venturini car I will be in for six races. I start at Toledo Speedway. I have a test there beforehand. My car will be sponsored by Monster, Craftsman, IK9. There are a lot of good partnerships going with my ARCA car. Between the K&N Pro Series car as well. There is a lot of support that’s coming in. We have to get to more racing and get more wins.” 


Do you respond to the fuel of the fans who get excited when they see you win?

“Yes, I saw some video of some fans. I think NASCAR racing comes down to the races where we’re not just following the leader to the finish. It’s going to the last-lap passes and making those risky moves. That’s what makes drivers unique. I think the people who just stay in line become a whole segment of average drivers and I don’t want to be average. I want to be different. I want to be unique for my driving style and my driving ability. Just going out there, I am not afraid to go out there and do something that someone else might be scared to do on the track. I want to go out there and do what it takes to get a win.”


What Sprint Car race did you run and will you race Chili Bowl Nationals?

“I was at Ventura Raceway in one of Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Cars. I went out there to get ready for this dirt race. I want to get more experience on a dirt circle track. I am from dirt off-road truck racing and that’s a lot different than flat circle track dirt racing. I drove that car to get more experience and more comfortable across the board. I was in a car four days before this so I could get more seat time so I could come out here swinging. That was fun to drive. Getting in a Sprint Car may be a little bit more whether it’s a midget or something like that. I think getting more practice across the board will make me a better driver. Chili Bowl is a big step. Something I would need a lot of seat time and practice to do. I don’t know if I’d be ready to do that this year. My focus is on stockcar racing. I don’t want to drift too far away from that and not take away from stockcar racing to do something else. I want to focus on my current championship run.” 


How can you make this year more exciting than the last?

“Last year, I wanted to get that weight off my shoulders and get that first win out of the way. I think the only way that we can make it more exciting is more wins and a championship.”


Talk about your driving coach Troy Adams.

“Ever since growing up, from the age of 12-13 for me in off-road truck racing, Troy was my main competitor’s driving coach and spotter. He was kind of my driving coach away from the track. But as soon as we went to the track, he was my competitor’s. I ended up battling for a championship with him in the end. After that season, he came over to my side and became my spotter and coach. I was about 15 at that time and ever since then, I go to his track. He owns a go-kart track in Riverside. I go there once or twice a week to get more practice, especially before race weekends. We practice everything from driving a go-kart on a circle track to a bump-and-run. Everything I use in a stockcar, I practice at his track.” 


Is the ARCA opportunity one that sets you up for 2020 to run full-time?

“It all depends on how this year goes with my K&N Pro Series West schedule. If we get that championship, yes, I would like to move up in a bigger series after we accomplish everything I can in this series. That’s something I want to do with my career is win at every level I am at before I move up. This year in the ARCA Series and be able to run in the top-five and maybe get a win.”


You’ve worked with Kevin Reed Jr. and how has that been?

“Kevin really made the difference in my program. I think he came in midway through the season and really showed that our relationship together, being a younger crew chief, understood what I needed. He wanted to prove something. I wanted to prove something. We work well together.”


How important was the Las Vegas race win after New Smyrna?

“New Smyrna was a rough race. We went out there and showed we were fast. We showed we were one of the fastest cars out there. I think that I wanted to do during the off season was work hard so we can show that. Once we did show that at New Smyrna, it really showed everyone we were going to be fast hopefully all season. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to. But everyone saw we were fast. We did everything we could. We had problems with the car, and everyone has that. It happens, you go past it and move on. We got it done here and that’s what I wanted to do.”


How important would it be for you to win back-to-back races?

“I hope so. I have raced at Irwindale Speedway quite a bit before. I feel like I know that track pretty well. I think there are some things other drivers in the series may know more than I do but I feel like we’ll have a really good car. If we can get a really good set up, we’ll have a good run there just because I have driven on that track a lot. It was one of the first tracks I ever drove on in a K&N car. I think that I had a lot of raw speed at Irwindale. If I can get a good set up we’ll have a good race.”

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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