Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 a "Dream Season" for Hailie Deegan

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
by Lisa Janine Cloud

The 2018 K&N Pro Series West season garnered more attention than usual in large part because of Hailie Deegan's emergence as a legitimate contender. The 17-year-old Temecula, California, native left her name in the record books as the first female driver to win a K&N Series race.

On her way to winning Sonoco Rookie of the Year, Deegan racked up 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts, including five top fives along with the historic win in her No. 19 Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing. She also earned two poles and led 40 laps.

 “This has been my dream season,” Deegan told the media at Texas Motor Speedway. “Everything we wanted to accomplish was accomplished this year. With everyone on my team, with my crew,  and everyone on the BMR [Bill McAnally Racing] team, they gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Despite her rookie success, Deegan understands that she’s just getting started and has much to learn as her career progresses, but she does have goals.

“This season really, it was just a learning year for me. I had a lot of goals I wanted to accomplish and needed to accomplish for myself to keep the ball rolling in my career.” Deegan explained. “I knew I needed to win, even though I knew it could happen or it could not. Halfway through the season, I knew it was possible but everything had to work out good. For next year, I am hoping to run in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and run for a title.”

Though she understands that opportunities are opening up in other forms of racing, such as open-wheel, she is focused on where she is.

“I came from off-road racing. It’s a lot different from open-wheel racing. Just the whole concept of it. It’s almost like a different sport compared to dirt racing where I came from. NASCAR is more my suit of racing I feel like. It would be a lot of work and I don’t know if I’d be as good at. It would take a lot to learn it,” Deegan said.

The biggest adjustment in moving from dirt trucks to stock cars, Deegan believes, has been gaining experience. “I lack experience compared to some of these guys racing stock cars who have raced on pavement for a while. I started racing at eight-years-old. The dirt racing definitely helps the learning curve. But in the end, I lack a lot of experience compared to these guys since this is technically my first whole year in a stock car. I think once we get more experience, we will get better and better.”

Deegan’s plan for 2019 is to run in K&N again--for a championship. Although she doesn’t have any deals currently put together in other series, she would like to run ARCA, K&N East or whatever would get her more seat time.

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