First time was the charm for Hailie Deegan, as the 19-year-old racer pulled off the best finish by a female driver in her NASCAR series debut, finishing 16th at Kansas Speedway’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race on October 17.
For her Truck Series debut, Deegan drove the No. 17 Ford for DGR-Crosley, which is her full-time ARCA Menards Series team. What made her historic moment even more impressive is that Deegan didn’t have any practice time before the race, due to NASCAR restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My first time starting that truck was coming off pit road and taking the green flag,” Deegan told NASCAR.com. “It was definitely difficult. My expectations of how the truck was going to handle based on what my crew told me was not how it handled the first stage. We were able to tune it up to how I liked it and get better every single time we pitted.
“I think, at the end of the day, it was crazy. I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to do more of it.”
To top off Deegan’s already exciting weekend, Ford Performance announced during the middle of the truck race that Deegan will run full-time in the 2021 Camping World Truck Series with DGR-Crosley.
“I am excited for this next step in my career with Ford Performance,” Deegan said in an official press release.
“I have raced trucks in the off-road world but to now have the opportunity to race trucks next season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a dream come true. I have some great partners already behind me for next season. We have a few primaries still available and I hope that we can fill these up in the coming weeks. I can’t wait for Daytona 2021 to get here.”
Deegan, whose ARCA season was capped off with Rookie of the Year honors and a third place overall finish, is definitely on the fast track when it comes to her racing career. And, while she clearly seems ready to move on to the step, the daughter of motocross legend Brian Deegan is certainly aware of the challenges ahead.
“It’s going to be a struggle at first,” she told NASCAR.com. “I’m not going to go out there and set the world on fire and win my first race. People have to understand that. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of learning. I think eventually we’ll obviously get better with time.”