Hailie Deegan: Driving the Future of Female Drivers

Above all, Hailie Deegan possesses talent and stardom as NASCAR's next female sensation. (Photo Credit: Adam Fenwick)

Above all, Hailie Deegan possesses talent and stardom as NASCAR’s next female sensation. (Photo Credit: Adam Fenwick)

If you’re a NASCAR fan, then you’ve probably heard the name Hailie Deegan. She is quickly becoming one of the most talked about, up and coming drivers in NASCAR’s lower series’. The daughter of Motocross Champion Brian Deegan, Hailie grew up around motorsports and has always had a need for speed.

 

Rising to the Top 

2018 was Deegan’s rookie season in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, however, she also ran a few races for the East Series. She made history when she became the first female to win a pole and a race in a touring series. She capped off the season with another pole, five top-five finishes, and 12 top-10s, finishing fifth in the overall standings. 

Deegan was resigned to BMR for the 2019 season where she again ran full-time in the K&N Pro Series West, along with some races in the East. That season saw two more wins, three poles, and an average finish of 6.1. This was also the year that Deegan made her ARCA Menards Series debut.  She completed a total of six races with one top-five finish, four top-10s, and an average finish of 9.7.

Making Moves: 2020 and Beyond

Throughout her two years in the K&N Pro Series West, Deegan made waves with her aggressive driving style. Her wins, all courtesy of last-lap, bump and run passes, have been both praised and ridiculed by fans of the sport. It has been this style of driving, and dedication to racing as a whole, that has caught the attention of Ford Performance Motorsports’ global director Mark Rushbrook.

When she is not racing, one can find Deegan on the dirt in various vehicles, from motorcycles to ATVs, and more. She has a profound love and respect for racing as a whole, no matter the equipment. 

Deegan’s 2020 season began earlier this month with a run in the MUSTANG GT4. This took place during the IMSA Roar Before the 24 test session at Daytona. This session preceded a run with fellow Ford Performance driver Chase Briscoe in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. Unfortunately, while Deegan ran as high as 15th, mechanical issues prevented her from completing the race.

Regarding her first run in an IMSA road course race, Deegan stated that she “gained a lot of experience” and feels as though she knows “a lot more about racing than I did before.”

Deegan continued, “That’s why I’m here and that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Though likely wanting more time in the car, she was very appreciative of the time had and the experience gained. Both of these will help build her career as a NASCAR driver.

“The Next Danica?”

Many people are excited to see where Deegan’s career will take her. She already has quite a following of fans, and drivers, who have been impressed by her performance. There has been a lot of talk of her becoming “the next Danica Patrick.” However, just because she is a female, this does not make her an equal comparison.

Following years of success in IndyCar, Patrick moved to NASCAR in 2012.  Meanwhile, Deegan is climbing up the stock car ladder. She is also gaining experience and knowledge about NASCAR as a whole. While both are talented individuals in their own right, there is nothing similar between Deegan and Patrick, aside from the fact that they are both women.

My only concern will be if Deegan moves up too quickly. She needs to move through the series’ at her own pace and have the opportunity to get comfortable with the vehicles she is in. Then, when she is ready and an opening becomes available, take it and move up. A need for a new female NASCAR driver exists. But, hopefully she is not rushed to the top to simply fill this void.

2020 is setting up to be a breakout year for Deegan. She continues to grow not only as a driver but as a person, keeping herself focused on her goals. She will run full-time for DGR-Crosley in the ARCA Menards Series and hopes to break into the Truck Series in 2021. For now, Deegan focuses on the task at hand: have a successful season, secure more wins, and possibly a championship. Deegan’s first ARCA race of the season will be February 8 at Daytona International Speedway.

Editor’s Notes

The views and opinions expressed in Chrissi’s feature are solely of the author. They do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of TPF, NASCAR, ARCA, and the drivers and teams featured in this editorial.

Chrissi Luttrell

I am a former Radiographer turned NASCAR fanatic and Stay at Home Mom of two wild little boys! My youngest, Ronin, is obsessed with all things NASCAR and dreams of one day becoming a successful driver like his idol Denny Hamlin.

I was first introduced to motorsports when I was around 14, and spent almost every weekend at our local dragstrip with my brother and his friends. Most of them owned Mustangs of all different body styles, with a few Camaros and Trans Ams here and there. We started a local mustang group known as "Brevard Mustangs", where we had meet ups, car shows, went to events and races together, and helped each other with the latest car builds. I have had my fair share of Mustangs myself, starting with a 99 35th Anniversary GT, then an 03 Cobra, and ultimately an 04 S281 Saleen that I named Gigi.

Writing has always been enjoyable for me, so having the opportunity to write about one of my favorite topics is an exciting and fun opportunity for me to have some "me" time, and take a break from mom life!

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