Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Where Does Hailie Deegan Go From Here?

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Last weekend at Circuit of the Americas, Hailie Deegan posted her third straight DNF this season and her sixth in the last nine races, dating back to Bristol Motor Speedway in September 2021.

It’s enough to make an outsider wonder whether Deegan’s place is in the Camping World Truck Series.

Deegan made her Truck Series debut at Kansas Speedway in late 2020.

After starting 34th, she moved up to 25th by the end of stage two and was the first truck one lap down. A free pass allowed her to rejoin the lead lap and she was able to steer clear of the Big One that marred the stage two restart. She settled into 18th by the time stage two ended and moved into the top five during a round of green flag pit stops during stage three. Deegan ended her lone 2020 start in 16th.

During that race, Ford Performance revealed Deegan would join the Truck Series full time, driving for David Gilliland Racing beginning in 2021.

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As one would expect, Deegan struggled to find her footing, most likely in large part due to the lack of practice and qualifying that forced her to run her first laps in a truck at each track during the race itself. After opening the year with six-straight finishes outside the top 15, Deegan finished 13th, 20th, 14th and 13th in the next four events.

It wasn’t until August when the series visited World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway that Deegan posted her first career top 10. In a race that was slowed by an extended red flag due to a local power outage, the driver of the No. 1 Ford was forced to avoid multiple wrecks and take home a seventh-place finish that still stands as her best thus far.

In fact, two races after that career-best finish is when this string of DNFs began.

Fast forward to the 2022 season. After posting just a single top-10 finish in her rookie season, the expectation for Deegan was that she’d enter this season with the experience needed to perform better.

But that hasn’t been the case, though her finishes don’t show what actually happened for her on race day.

At Daytona International Speedway, she was running right around the top 10 when she was caught up in the Big One on lap 99. While she was able to continue, she still limped home to a 17th-place finish and was well out of contention to even attempt an upset victory.

The following week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Deegan was caught up in two incidents within a span of fewer than 10 laps, and despite meeting the minimum speed after repairs, the damage was ultimately too much to overcome.

Atlanta Motor Speedway wasn’t much better where she ultimately was forced to retire after a big fire under the No. 1 truck.

In the Truck Series’ second visit to COTA, Deegan started 23rd and climbed inside the top 20 before she was forced to serve a pass-through penalty for cutting the esses on lap 7. After struggling to stay right around the top 20 through stage two following a tight handling condition on the No. 1 truck, Deegan restarted stage three in 19th.

She got tagged in an incident between Jack Wood and Kris Wright that left her with terminal damage. The finish of 34th marked her third straight outside the top 30 and continued the free fall through the point standings to 33rd.

It’s easy to look at these first four races this season and say Deegan doesn’t belong. After all, what team would want to continue fielding a truck for a driver who’s posted three straight finishes outside the top 30 and has been involved in some sort of an incident in all four races this season?

But it’s too early to call for her removal just yet. After all, how many times have we seen a driver across all three of NASCAR’s top series struggle, especially during their sophomore season?

Derek Kraus, for example, impressed a lot of people during a rookie season where many expected he would find victory lane in 2020. The start of 2021, though? Three finishes outside the top 30 in the first five races (33rd at Daytona, 32nd at Las Vegas, 38th at Bristol Motor Speedway dirt).

Christian Eckes didn’t even get to run full-time during his sophomore season and was instead forced to split the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota with Grant Enfinger. That has since put him in a position to return to running the full schedule this year.

How about Tanner Gray, who posted just one top five and two top 10s during the entirety of his sophomore season in 2021? Fast forward to this season and he’s got two top fives and three top 10s and currently sits fifth in the championship standings.

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Of course, we know that there will always tend to be a bit more leeway for Deegan because of her social media appeal and marketability. But I don’t, for a second, believe that’s what will ultimately create longevity in the sport, despite what many critics would have you believe.

Deegan has been given the tools to succeed with DGR and Ford Performance in veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. and veteran spotter TJ Majors. The key for the 20-year-old moving forward, though, is going to be to keep her head down and her truck out of tough situations. At this point, it’s incredibly important for Deegan to finish the next several races to take advantage of as much seat time as possible.

There’s going to come a point where Deegan is going to have to prove her worth on the track to continue her career in NASCAR. But the truth of the matter is that as long as Ford Performance and DGR are willing to allow Deegan to run through what has, for the most part, been a string of bad luck this season so she can start stringing together complete races, she will remain a staple in the series.

Either way, it’s not time to hit the panic button on her NASCAR career… yet.

About the author

Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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Bill B

I like Hailie and have been pulling for her when I watch truck races but…
“Of course, we know that there will always tend to be a bit more leeway for Deegan because of her social media appeal and marketability gender” is what I think you meant to say.
NASCAR has tended to elevate any driver that isn’t a white male in an attempt to appear diverse and that is where the “leeway” you speak of comes from.

Charlie

Patience. She may have pushed a little too quick up the ladder, but she can do it. I believe she needs two years in trucks THEN if she can’t perform, then make the difficult decisions. But it will take time and patience.

JKRacing

She needs to race more instead of just waiting to race a truck every week, she needs to be a dirt car or something two or three times a week along with driving truck can’t rely on just sim racing

Richard Buchholz

You mean like her racing her micro sprint, or at the chili bowl?

Jerry Dawayne Lee

She races all the time dude..

FRED STONE

get her out of that damn truck she can obviously drive after seeing her performance in a sportscar where she was taken out by a known menace. I dont think she is meshing well with her crew chief or spotter they should switch the teams up put Preece in her truck and see how it goes. I know this is not a fair comparison but you need a baseline to see where that teams performance is.

Zach

Not meshing well? Have you not seen her YouTube? Her crew is fine. It’s everybody else on the track who can’t stand to see her whooping their ass.

Bailey Dog

Agree with all 3 previous comments, alot is she needs to avoid issues she didn’t create, she can drive to a point, but keeping someone in a car can’t always be about sex or marketing or social media, you do have to perform. In mho, Danaka was around longer than she should have been. I won’t go into other drivers whom seem to only be able to drive on 1 certain kind of track. NO driver should be kept with out performance ACROSS the board.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bailey Dog
Mike

Join a knitting class?

K Jenkins

Let the girl drive, she wants to win , not just riding around like I have seen the other ladies do.

Duke

I see why Deegan wouldn’t want to continue with this three ring circus, obviously she’s the odd one out at the track, it’s very apparent they didn’t want her in the series to begin with, if I was her, I would wash my hands of it,and gono to a much brighter future and avoid this degrading discussion of her. This is appalling to say the least. Sam.Griffin0311 (IG) should you want to continue this discussion)

Chris N

She experienced fire in a race car, something every driver fears, and she’s wanting back in this weekend. She’s a racer, end of story. No one should ever question if she belongs ever again.

Billy Porter

Why? Why shouldn’t we question if she belongs or not? She’s in this upper tier of NASCAR, not because of her talent but because of her gender. Now she has to prove that she belongs just like any other driver. She can get in in the name of diversity, but to stay in is going to require some actual talent. I wish her well.

Daryl Curtis

You are so full of it

Kevin

Might be a good idea to pull back a bit on the social media frenzy. Her racing talent has gotten her to this point…Focus

Tim

I think she still doin better than Danica Patrick

Daryl Curtis

I think Beth needs to learn more about Haile and racing before she publishes this type of garbage.

Last edited 4 months ago by Daryl Curtis
Brad

Everything mentioned here appears to be out of her control. She can wheel a raceway. Be patient. In my opinion, it takes a good 5 years to develop. There are a select few who can come in and win right away.

Billy Porter

Yes, and they’ve all been white males. i.e., Jeff Gordon, Brad Keslowski, Joey Lagano etc. No females or people of color have excelled in this sport. Not racist, just facts.

Jerry Wreath

I’ve watched Hallie Deegan in carting, off-road trucks Manard west,and Trucks. She has the natural ability to drive. I really thought she should have been racing trucks and Manard west. She excelled in Nascar type race car. She’s been caught up in someone else’s crashes so far this season. She will get things turned around. But the thought of getting her in a Xfinity car see if the difference is a plus or minus. If she struggles severely maybe trucks or racing aren’t cup of tea. But FORD saw enough to sponsor her along with DGR and all the other sponsors. Let’s put are trust in her and watch her EXCELL.

STEVEN KRUK

Leeway=female driver! Going back to last season, Hailie has had 10 straight truck races with bad luck but allegedly she has a lot of talent and skill as opposed to Alex Bowman who has “all luck” but “no talent, no skill!” His results are much better than Hailie’s and against the best competition at the highest level in NASCAR! I guess this proves “I’d rather be lucky than good” to be absolutely true!

STEVEN KRUK

I am a Hailie Deegan fan and I’m also a realist. I hope Hailie can turn things around and have a successful rest of the season. Drivers who continue the excuses of bad luck, bad breaks generally aren’t good drivers! Will she prove that she’s much better than what she has shown? Will she finish in the top 10 2022 NASCAR Truck series standings? This would prove she belongs as she was projected to accomplish!

Buddy Woot

To much time on social media and not enough concentration on racing

Zach

I outa slap the person writing this post. Better yet the editor should have done it. What kind of garbage ass article is this? 😂. Do you even watch the sport? You must be a highschool student. Ain’t no way this individuals IQ is above .2

Nathan V

Hailie has an incredible talent!! She has the drive to be successful and is racing anything she can! (SRX, dirt, stadium trucks,etc.) Hailie keeps getting into other peoples messes for the most part and really this bad start to the season hasn’t been her fault!!! I think that if she could run an xfinity race or two this season she could grow as a driver and might have more success! Her arca career was great so if you put her in a nascar style of car then the better results might show up! Bottom line, Hailie has talent but something needs to change so she can be more successful!! Either the series, the team, or the crew… maybe even the manufacturer!!! Hailie will be successful in nascar!!!

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