But the words from the 2014 Cup champion were in praise of the 16-year-old K&N Pro Series West driver.
Harvick was fresh off competing in the K&N West season-opener Thursday night at Kern County Raceway in his hometown of Bakersfield, California. Among his 22 competitors was Deegan, who was making her first start in the series driving for Bill McAnally Racing.
When asked Friday at Auto Club Speedway about what talent he discovered in the 175-lap race, Harvick didn’t mention 16-year-old race winner Derek Kraus.
Deegan, the daughter of X-Games athlete Brian Deegan, was Harvick’s answer.
“If I had to pick one person to say, ‘Alright, that’s the person KHI (Harvick’s sports and celebrity-marketing agency) would want to represent and has the most potential,’ it would probably be Hailie Deegan,” Harvick said. “She did really, really well.”
In just her second K&N start (she has one in the K&N East), Deegan started eighth and finished seventh. Harvick, who led 132 of 175 laps from the pole, got knocked back in the field late in the race and briefly ran around Deegan.
“Obviously, they have I would call it a unique racing heritage within their family with Brian,” Harvick said. “I got to race with her a little bit there at the end of the race. She did a great job in the car. I think as far as potential and reach and racing knowledge and getting in the car as young as she is, that would be the one I would pluck out of the series and say that’s the one we want to be a part of. Because she has a lot of potential and already has some racing experience in multiple vehicles. That was fun to see.”
Deegan’s father has won the most Freestyle Motocross medals in X Games history with 10. He has multiple championships in the Lucas Oil Pro 2 and Lucas Oil Pro Lite series.
Deegan began off-road racing when she was 8 and was the first female to win a race and a championship in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series.
In 2015, she was the Modified Kart Regional Champion and the next year was the Modified Kart National Champion as well as the Driver of the Year. In 2017, she was the first female in the Pro Lite division of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Series to have multiple podiums in her rookie year.
Deegan took part in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity combine in 2016 and won the 2017 NASCAR Diversity Young Racer award.
Anyone that plays the 2017 video game “NASCAR Heat 2” can play as Deegan in the Cup Series.