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By Seth Eggert, Editor-in-Chief
On her first return to a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series track, Hailie Deegan had the best result of her career.
Deegan made her Kansas Speedway debut last fall. In the Clean Harbors 200, she finished 16th despite an accident halfway through the race. When the David Gilliland Racing driver returned to the 1.5 mile track, she picked up where she left off.
The native of Temecula, Calif., Finished the second stage of the Wise Power 200 in 10th place. This gave Deegan’s # 1 Toter / Engine Ice Ford F-150 momentum in the final stage. She quietly kept her nose clean as she climbed into marching order. As the race neared the end, Deegan had climbed to ninth place after the pit stop cycle was over. An end-of-race warning for Jennifer Jo Cobb set up a restart in overtime.
Upon restart, Deegan, along with Ben Rhodes, Kyle Busch and others, were swarmed with those who spoke out about scuffed tires. Coming out of the second corner, Stewart Friesen turned and picked up Derek Kraus. Deegan narrowly avoided the incident. Under the warning that followed, it stung too much for scuffed tires and adjustments. Team leader Mike Hillman Jr. pumped up the tire pressure in an effort to gain a position on the restart.
“We will inflate these tires for you. There are only two trucks behind you on the first lap, ”Mike Hillman Jr. tells Deegan.
She will start 13th in overtime. pic.twitter.com/MyUloNP6DU
– David Gilliland Racing (@dgr_racing) May 2, 2021
Despite the cooler tires, Deegan didn’t get the same jump in the second overtime restart that others did in the first. The jockey for the position boxed the 19-year-old in the outside lane. When the checkered flag waved, Deegan was 13th.
With the first two stages careless, Deegan climbed up in the running order. At the end of stage 1, she was 15th on the track. Without training or qualifications, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year candidate built on her previous experience in Kansas.
13th place is the first top 15 in Deegan’s Truck Series career. This is only his eighth career start and marked his third career lead.
The top 15 also moved Deegan from 18th in the points standings to 16th. She is 55 points from the playoff cutoff, held by Johnny Sauter. Deegan is 201 points behind leader John Hunter Nemechek.
In the battle for Rookie of the Year honors, Deegan is third, 36 points behind Chandler Smith, who leads the rookie standings. Carson Hocevar is second in the rookie standings, two points behind Smith.
Now, the David Gilliland Racing rider will look to build on that momentum in her maiden start at Darlington Raceway in the Liftkitsforless.com 200 on Friday May 7th.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo