Hailie Deegan focuses on present, while Ford looks toward her future


The head of Ford’s motorsports program said he’s “expecting a lot” from Hailie Deegan this year, and if she performs well in the Camping World Truck Series, “we would expect that she would go into Xfinity for 2023.”

Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, made the comments Monday about the 20-year-old Deegan, who begins her second year in the Truck Series with David Gilliland Racing. The Truck season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona.

Should Deegan move up to a full-time ride in the Xfinity Series next year, she would be the first female to have a full-time ride in that series since Danica Patrick in 2012.  

Deegan’s immediate focus, though, is Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway on Peacock. She will partner with Chase Briscoe. They’ll drive a Mustang GT4 for PR Racing in the four-hour event the day before the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Harrison Burton and Austin Cindric will a second PR Racing entry in the race.

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“I think it’s just going to be a good experience to be able to get seat time,” Deegan said of Friday’s race. “I feel that’s one thing that I’ve really buckled down and said for this 2022 year that I just need to get as much seat time as I can, whether it’s in dirt, circle track stuff, whatever I can drive.”

Deegan discovered last year in the Truck Series, as did other rookies in NASCAR’s top three series, how challenging it can be without practice at most events. Her rookie season in the Truck Series saw modest results. She had one top-10 finish in 22 starts. 

“I would say last year it took me probably twice as long as it would normally just to get comfortable and to figure out the ropes in the Truck Series, just for the sole fact that there was no practice my first time,” she said. 

Even so, Rushbrook said Ford officials saw progress in Deegan last year.

“We did see as we went back to tracks for the second time she was performing a lot better, so I think this year she’ll be a lot more comfortable in the truck,” Rushbrook said.  

Deegan says she seeks to build off last year’s experience. 

“I feel like we definitely did get that solid base last season, even if it did take longer,” she said. “To be able to go into this season, into 2022, and be better right off the bat, not have to work up to things and just the practice side of things this year, will be able to help me now that I know the changes that we need to make to the truck and really know how to affect the truck — to be able to make those decisions during practice in the short amount of time span that we do have.”

The Truck Series will have extended practice this year at eight of its 23 races: Daytona, Atlanta, Bristol dirt, Knoxville, Sonoma, Mid-Ohio, Nashville and the Phoenix season finale.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 - Qualifying
Hailie Deegan returns to David Gilliland Racing for a second season in the Truck Series. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Deegan also looks to the new Ford F-150 Truck this season to accelerate her progress.

“I’m hoping that is going to help out a lot,” she said. “It seems like from the data that they have, it looks to be a lot better, so I think we’re going to go out there and be a lot more competitive as a whole team.  

“From a team standpoint, we do have a lot of the same guys back on my program that were there last year. I felt like they were really good. I feel like we mesh really well and built a good relationship.”

As she looks ahead to this season, she has a few races she’s looking forward to run.

“I’d say one I’m excited for is Sonoma, just because I’ve raced there before in the K&N Series and qualified on the pole, so I know it’s possible for me to do good there,” she said. “I would say that’s one I’m excited for.  

“As far as redeeming myself, I would say that would have to be the Bristol dirt track (a 19th-place finish). …  Now that I have race there, I’m going to set my truck up a lot different than I did the last time.  

“I feel like there are two ways to set up your truck for that race. You either have it really good at the beginning or really good at the end, and I had mine really good at the beginning and we weren’t there at the end.”

Her season might include more than this week’s race and the Truck Series. She competed in select SRX races last summer and could do so again.

“I talked to Ray (Evernham) and Tony (Stewart) last year and they said they would love to have me back, which is great to be able to hear that that opportunity is still there to come back and race in that series,” Deegan said. “That would be an awesome thing to do, so I’m kind of just waiting on their end, trying to figure out what the game plan is what races I’d be available to race.”


Justin Haley replaces Kyle Busch in Kaulig car for Xfinity race


Justin Haley will drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 car in Monday morning’s scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Haley replaces Cup Series regular Kyle Busch, who was scheduled to drive for Kaulig in the 300-miler. The race was postponed from Saturday to Monday because of weather, giving NASCAR a 900-mile doubleheader at the track.

Busch decided to concentrate on the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race, scheduled for a  3 p.m. start.

Haley also will race in the 600.

Ty Gibbs is scheduled to run in both races.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. BuildSubmarines.com will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”