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Friesen tops Kyle Busch to take pole for Martinsville truck race

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Stewart Friesen outdueled Kyle Busch to gain the pole for this afternoon’s TruNorth Global 250 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Friesen covered the 0.526-mile, paper clip-shaped oval with a speed at 96.465 mph. It’s the third career pole in the Truck Series for the Canadian driver.

“Our Chevy was fast, we made a couple small air pressure adjustments and a little bit of track bar there for the last round, and it held up,” Friesen told FS1. “They pay the money at the end of the race, though. That’s what we’re concerned about now.”

Friesen will be seeking his first career Truck Series win in today’s race.

Busch was second fastest at 96.366 mph.

“Overnight, we made a ton of changes,” Busch told FS1. “Hopefully, we can get this Tundra to where we want it to be and where it’ll be good on the long runs. Long runs are going to be important.

“It’s going to be all about track position and staying out front and seeing what we can get. It was a top-five truck yesterday. Hopefully, it’ll be a top-three truck now.”

Busch, who earned his 200th career NASCAR victory last Sunday at Fontana, California, will be making his 10th career start in a truck at Martinsville. He has one win (March 2016), five top fives and six top-10 finishes at the track.

Todd Gilliland (96.249 mph) was third fastest, followed by Sheldon Creed (96.200), Brett Moffitt (96.180) and Matt Crafton (96.132).

The rest of the top 12 qualifiers were: Raphael Lessard (96.083), Johnny Sauter (96.015), Austin Hill (95.550), Ross Chastain (95.468), Derek Kraus (95.266) and Austin Dillon (95.165).

Click here for the full qualifying results.

Today’s 250-lap/131-mile race will take the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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Truck Series practice report from Martinsville

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As time was counting down to the final seconds, Todd Gilliland recorded the fastest speed in Friday’s second and final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Martinsville Speedway.

Gilliland was the only driver among the 38 drivers that took to the track to surpass 95 mph with a speed of 95.065 mph. Stewart Friesen was second-fastest (94.846 mph), followed by Sheldon Creed (94.832 mph), Grant Enfinger (94.813) and Austin Hill (94.699).

Sixth through 10th were Myatt Snider (94.666), Derek Kraus (94.661), Johnny Sauter (94.637), Raphael Lessard (94.515) and Tyler Dippel (94.406).

Kyle Busch, who won his 200th career NASCAR race last Sunday, was 17th on the speed cart with a lap of 93.840 mph.

Click here for the full results of Friday’s second and final Trucks practice.

First Practice

Tyler Ankrum was fastest in the first of two Gander Outdoors Truck Series practices Friday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.

Ankrum covered the .526-mile, paper-clip shaped oval at a speed of 94.538 mph.

Brett Moffitt was second-fastest (94.439 mph) in the 37-truck field, followed by Myatt Snider (94.402), Derek Kraus (94.340) and Sheldon Creed (94.322).

Click here for the full first practice speed chart.

On Friday morning, eight drivers took part in a rookie-only practice. Gus Dean was fastest (93.272 mph), followed by Raphael Lessard (93.171 mph)and Derek Kraus (93.129).

 

Derek Kraus to make four Truck Series starts for Bill McAnally Racing

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K&N Pro Series driver Derek Kraus is set to make four starts in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series this year with Bill McAnally Racing, the driver announced Tuesday.

Kraus, who competes in both the K&N Pro Series West and East, will drive the No. 19 Eneos Motor Oil Toyota starting with the March 23 event at Martinsville Speedway.

Bill McAnally confirmed to Speed Sport that Kraus will also compete at Dover International Speedway (May 3), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 13) and in the playoff race at ISM Raceway (Nov. 8).

The 17-year-old has seven combined K&N wins since 2017 with the latest coming in the K&N East opener on Feb. 11 at New Smyrna Speedway.

He competed full-time in the West series in 2018 and won four races.

Kraus made his Truck Series debut last year in the playoff race at ISM Raceway. He started and finished eighth driving for BMR.

 

Rising NASCAR star Hailie Deegan: ‘I put my helmet on the same way everyone else does’

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At 17, Hailie Deegan is far from a conventional teenager.

At an age where many of her peers are learning to drive or getting a driver’s license for the first time, Deegan not only has been driving race cars and off-road vehicles for nearly a decade. She also has become one of the rising young female stars in NASCAR racing:

  • In late September, she became the first woman to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race (Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho).
  • In so doing, she became only the second female race winner in NASCAR history, joining Shawna Robinson, who won three races in 1988 and ’89 in the now-defunct NASCAR Dash Series.
  • Deegan wrapped up the season by winning K&N Pro Series West rookie of the year, finishing fifth in the final standings.
  • Early last month, the Temecula, California, native was named to Forbes’ “Women In Sports to Watch in 2019.”

And now Deegan has her sights set on not only winning more races in 2019 but also to capture the K&N West championship. If she does, she’ll add another page to her NASCAR history book, becoming the first female champion in any NASCAR series.

“I’m not done, I still have so much more to accomplish,” Deegan told NBC Sports. “It’s like there’s a ladder, and this is the first step up the ladder.

“You don’t feel accomplished when you get that first step on the ladder. You feel accomplished when you’re on top of the ladder. I want to be on top, and I’m going to do everything in my ability to get there.”

A straight-A, home-schooled student who graduated high school at 16, Deegan begins her second full season in the K&N Series on Sunday at New Smyrna Speedway (to air on NBCSN on Feb. 13 at 6 pm ET), just a few miles from where she hopes to race one day: Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan drives for one of the most successful K&N teams, Bill McAnally Racing, with primary sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts and Toyota.

“I don’t want to be cocky, but I want to win a championship and feel that with my team, I have the ability,” Deegan said.

When she and her team arrived last September to race at Meridian Speedway — a quarter-mile paved oval — she already had compiled two runner-up results and seven other top-10 finishes in her first 11 starts (she finished the K&N West season with 12 top 10s in 14 starts).

But she was hungry for that elusive first win.

“We just really had to find what worked for me, what crew guys worked well with me, and who didn’t,” Deegan said. “I think we figured that out halfway through the season, and from that point, we were running in the top three or top five almost every single race.”

Deegan and her team felt so confident about the Idaho race that they broke into song and dance beforehand to the driver’s favorite song, Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”, to get pumped up.

It’s a habit she picked up from her motorcycle and off-road racer father Brian Deegan, who also listens to music to motivate himself before his own races. One of Hailie’s crew members brought a portable speaker to continue playing the song as the team paraded and pushed her car onto the starting grid.

Deegan started fourth and stayed in the top five the entire race. On the final lap, she applied a textbook bump and run to then-teammate Cole Rouse two turns from the finish line. She sailed past to capture the checkered flag and put her name in NASCAR’s history books.

The winning maneuver was not happenstance.

“We went into that race with aggressive intentions,” Brian Deegan said. “We knew it was a short track, flat, so we went to the go-kart track and practiced bump and runs. We must have practiced 1,000 of them.

“It’s a fair race move. You just have to perfect it so you don’t knock a guy out. We went into that race and planned to do that move. When it came down to the last lap, I was like, ‘Hailie, you know what to do. We can make friends later.’”

While Rouse was initially upset at being knocked out of the way, he soon cheered for such a big achievement.

Derek Kraus, one of Deegan’s fellow teammates at Bill McAnally Racing, is also 17 and entering his third year in K&N competition with BMR. He’s watched her develop.

“She shows a lot on the racetrack,” Kraus said. “She adapted to it really well and really fast, too. It takes other drivers a little longer than what it took her to get used to K&N cars. It’s way different from what people expect. It’s a heavier stock car. You definitely have to know what you’re doing. She’s worked her tail off to get where she is.”

Kraus, of Stratford, Wisconsin, admires Deegan not just for her ability on the track but also her demeanor off it.

“She always seems to be in a happy mood and is uplifting,” Kraus said. “She’s never down, no matter how bad the night is or what happens on the racetrack. I think I’ve only seen her mad just once, and that’s pretty good for a whole season. She’s a good teammate to have around because she’s always happy and laughing.”

Kraus noted that it doesn’t make a difference that Deegan is female. Once she straps into her car, she’s a racer first and foremost.

“Her being a girl or being my age, once you put that helmet on, everyone’s the same, everyone’s equal,” Kraus said. “No matter if you’re driving against a 15-year-old or a 40-year-old, you’ll never know the difference once you get that helmet on.”

Deegan got the racing bug from her father, one of the most successful freestyle motocross riders in the United States and the most decorated rider in X Games history.

“My dad has pretty much taught me, he’s built this thing with me, he trains with me, practices with me, goes to the gym with me, we battle each other at the go-kart track,” Deegan said. “We’re so competitive with each other, and I feel like we both make each other better because we’re so hard on each other, just trying to be the best we can.”

Brian and Marissa Deegan have three children who all have become racers. Hailie is the oldest, while 12-year-old brother Haiden is a multiple champion in motocross, and 8-year-old brother Hudson is competing in both motocross and karts.

But it’s Hailie that has been the biggest chip off the old block racing-wise so far.

“I tried to teach her all my tricks and everything it takes to win and the ability to learn on her own,” Brian Deegan said. “My goal is one day (she) will surpass me.

“Hailie rode dirt bikes when she was little, which I thought was a good foundation for her to start on. But when it comes to girls in motorsports, in my opinion, the reality is there’s a lot more opportunities on four wheels than two.

“So (racing cars) is something we worked towards. It’s not by accident. Ever since she was 8 years old, she’s been racing with me. About 2009, we got her into racing trucks and go-karts, dirt, off-road karts. Each year, she got better. Then she started winning races and started winning championships, and it started snowballing from there.”

By the time she was 12 years old, Hailie told her parents she was ready to go all-in as a race car driver.

“That’s when I thought this is going to be her path,” Brian Deegan said. “It really wasn’t just our decision, it was something she wanted to do, and that’s kind of where it started.

“We’re excited to conquer this sport as a family and win the fans over. Hailie is what you see is what you get. She’s not putting on a front. She’s giggly, fun, no bad bones in her body. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say a bad word. We’re very fortunate.”

Deegan is serious about everything she does racing-wise. That includes how she revels in beating her father in regular go-kart races they compete in against each other – with a lot of good-natured trash talking between them.

“We go and have the gnarliest battles out there; we’ve actually totaled a couple karts,” she said with a giggle.

Brian Deegan also laughs about some of the on-track battles he’s had with his daughter.

“Usually, that’s where you start blaming the cars or tires, the kind of standard excuse by racers,” Brian Deegan said. “You can always find an excuse. We definitely talk crap to each other and give each other a hard time on who’s faster. That’s friendly competition, it’s what keeps you pushing to be better.

“Every day, we talk about racing. Every day, we talk about strategy. Why (and) how we’re going to win, who we’re going to beat and how are we going to do it. That’s a daily deal that we’ve done.”

It’s not every day that a lower-rung NASCAR race can be life-changing, but it certainly was in Hailie Deegan’s case. Not only did her victory in Idaho affirm that she could win a race, the national attention she’s received since might be a lot for a 17-year-old — but not her.

“At the beginning of last year, I was just completely lost,” she said. “I didn’t really know what I’m doing. I’m still learning. I didn’t know where my place is in the stock car world. I was just lost. I didn’t know the terms about the car, didn’t know what to change, and then about halfway through the season, it just clicked, and everything just fell into place.

“Ever since then, we started running up front every single race. Coming into this year, I feel a lot more confident in myself. I know I have the abilities. I know my place. I know what to do now. I know what to work on, and I know my strengths and weaknesses.

“As soon as last season ended, I was ready for it to start back up again. I’d say, ‘How many more months to go?’ I’ve literally been counting the days. I hate the offseason.”

In just a few days, she’ll be back in the driver’s seat at New Smyrna.

Much like what her teammate Kraus said, Deegan’s competitiveness rises to the surface in races. But outside her race car, she has not let the success get to her.

“There’s nothing I hate more than an over-cocky person,” she said. “I have friends that’ll be all cocky and then go out and get their butt whooped. They’re the worst.

“I don’t try to call stuff before it happens, because in the end, it’s not always going to happen. I’d rather be humble and wait for myself to succeed and then take it all in from there.”

While Deegan wants to win a championship, she remains grounded. Her maturity, savviness and philosophy belie her youth.

“My dad has kept me real good at just focusing on racing,” she said. “In the end, success comes with results, and you’ll get everything with results, so let’s just make it easy and get right to the point and get those results.”

Deegan achieved all her goals last season. For 2019, she hopes to earn at least three more K&N West wins and one in the K&N East Series (in which she will run select races), along with the West championship.

Where would she go from there?

“The best is yet to come,” Brian Deegan said of his daughter. “We’re just starting. We’re just getting in it. She has a legitimate chance of being the first girl to win a NASCAR championship, and that could happen this year.”

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Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Phoenix, Championship 4 set

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Brett Moffitt took advantage of a late-race restart to win his fifth race of the season and lock into the Championship 4 at Miami.

Moffitt restarted third with four laps remaining as fellow playoff contenders Noah Gragson and Grant Enfinger started on the front row.

Enfinger raced Gragson hard and as the two pushed up the track, that made room for Moffitt to grab the lead.

Gragson held on to finish second.

“On that restart, I spun the tires a little bit in the restart zone and then in (Turns) 1 and 2 I got run up the racetrack.” Gragson told Fox Sports 1 after the race. “I guess I was three-wide. We were beating and banging. That’s what you got to do. I dish it, so I sure as hell got to take it. I respect the 98 for what he did. He’s going for the win; I’m going for the win. But most importantly we’re going to be racing for a championship next week at Homestead.”

Harrison Burton was third, Enfinger fourth and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Friesen appeared to have a shot at the victory until he was caught speeding during a pit stop at the end of Stage 2.

With his fourth-place finish, Enfinger was eliminated from the playoffs.

Playoff contender Johnny Sauter, who was already locked into the championship finale, finished seventh.

Matt Crafton finished 11th and failed to advance to the Championship 4.

The race was red flagged on Lap 131 when playoff contender Justin Haley oiled down the track with a blown engine. He was running fifth at the time, but retired in 28th. Haley was already locked into the Championship 4 with his win last week at Texas.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Harrison Burton

MORE: Click here for complete results
MORE: Click here for complete points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Derek Kraus finished eighth in his Truck debut. … Christian Eckes scored his third top 10 in his fourth career Truck start; he finished ninth. … In his second career start, Tyler Ankrum survived a spin on Lap 17 and climbed to sixth at the checkers. … Sheldon Creed qualified 16th and advanced to 10th for his first Truck top 10 in six starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek gambled on two tires when the field pitted at the end of Stage 2; he spun with 23 laps to go while trying to hold Enfinger at bay and finished 29th. … Todd Gilliland was involved in an accident with Ankrum on Lap 17 and was never able to rebound; Gilliland finished 17th.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “Sorry guys. All we had. Don’t know what else to tell you,” Enfinger said to his team over the radio after the checkered flag waved.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 200 at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Fox Sports 1.