Hailie Deegan

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Hailie Deegan on IMSA debut: ‘I’m not mad. I’m gaining experience’

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The first day of Hailie Deegan’s foray into sports car racing was one with mixed results.

Deegan and teammate, NASCAR Xfinity driver Chase Briscoe, finished 43rd of 51 teams that were entered in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Deegan ran as high as 15th before the car experienced mechanical issues roughly three hours into the four-hour event, and it was brought in to be worked on for the remaining time.

Deegan and Briscoe were in the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford GT4, which ran a total of 86 laps. One other NASCAR driver, Xfinity pilot Austin Cindric, was teamed with Seb Priaulx in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Inc. Ford Mustang GT4, and together they finished 45th, completing 78 laps.

One other name of note was IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves, who finished 28th (completed 107 laps).

The fastest team in the field was Dylan Murry, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jim Cox, who collectively ran the entire 110 laps.

While her team continued to work on the car in the garage, Deegan visited the infield media center to speak about her first race experience in an IMSA sports car.

I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days.

“I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before. And that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

The biggest challenge, Deegan said, was the large number of cars she had to compete against.

“The traffic is a little difficult to deal with; it’s not bad, though,” Deegan said. “It makes it fun. It makes it interesting. You constantly have to be on your toes.

“What I like about sports car racing is how many of the points you have to remember in your head. You get a little distracted for a second, and the next thing you know, you overdrive the corner that kind of laps into the next corner.

“So there’s constantly so much going on, you have to be on top of your game.”

While she would have liked to have more time on track had it not been for the mechanical issue, Deegan was philosophical about how the day played out.

“I’m not mad, I’m gaining experience,” she said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”

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A ‘crucial’ year for Hailie Deegan’s career begins at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Hailie Deegan will be racing a sports car today at Daytona International Speedway with an eye toward her future in stock cars.

Signed by Ford Performance to a developmental deal that will put her in a full-time ARCA car (and possibly a truck race or two) this season, Deegan was surprised when the manufacturer also expressed a desire to put her in a few IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge events.

The first will be Friday’s season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge, a four-hour warmup race at Daytona International Speedway ahead of Saturday’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Deegan and Xfinity Series veteran Chase Briscoe will start 20th in the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4.

MEET HAILIE DEEGAN: ‘I put my helmet on the same way as everyone else’

“I originally never planned on this, but (Ford) came to me and were like ‘we want to get you on our IMSA program,’” Deegan said. “’That’s what we did with Briscoe, (Cole) Custer, (Austin) Cindric. All the guys that came through the ranks with Ford.’

“When they told me that, I was excited because more road courses will be in the NASCAR world, and there already are quite a few. I think what makes an all-around good driver are the ones that are good at every single type of track.”

There’s been much talk of adding road and street races to the Cup schedule in the next few years, and the Xfinity Series schedule just expanded to five road courses with the move from the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 that will be driven by Hailie Deegan and Chase Briscoe.

Deegan, 18, still remains a long way from the top two national series, but they are her goal, which makes 2020 critical for earning results.

“This is the year that’s very important and crucial to my career because it decides contracts for years out with sponsors getting behind you for the higher levels,” said Deegan, who had three K&N Series victories in 2018-19. “If we can do good this year, I feel I can get more people behind me so we can go in the top three level series (of NASCAR), and have sponsors that want to stay with me full time while I’m there.

“My goal is to win a few races in the ARCA Series, which is going to be hard. There are a lot of good guys, good cars this year.”

Aside from running full time in ARCA for DGR-Crosley, Deegan would “love to do a truck race” if the sponsorship materializes, “but funding right now is all focused on ARCA so we can try to work toward those championships and winning races. I know I want to be in a good car with good people behind me. If we can focus on that, hopefully everything else will come along.”

Click here to read the full version of this story from NBC Sports’ MotorSportsTalk.

2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Start time, TV schedule, lineup and more

Rain hampers first of two-day ARCA test at Daytona

ARCA Menards Series
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Friday’s first day of a two-day open test for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway was cut short due to rain.

A total of 37 cars – out of 50 that were entered – took to the 2.5-mile oval, with Connor Hall of Chad Bryant Racing turning in the fastest lap of 181.046 mph, followed by Ronnie Osmor (180.890 mph) and Jacob Heafner (180.843).

“We were working on single car runs this morning,” Hall said in an ARCA media release. “We had a game plan to work on the car and getting air where we wanted it.

“We made some gains and learned some things we liked and didn’t like. That’s what testing is all about. We were focused on what we needed to be better on last year. We have a great racecar. We are happy but not totally happy so we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

Added Heafner, “It was a learning curve at the beginning. I calmed myself down and got to driving. It is a big change coming from late models on short tracks. We worked a little on single car runs and then got out there in the draft a little. We’re learning a lot and ready to come back in February.”

Other notable names in the field included Ty Gibbs, grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, who was fourth fastest (180.825 mph), Riley Herbst (seventh, 180.552), Tanner Gray (17th, 176.602), Hailie Deegan (18th, 176.167) and Sam Mayer (30th, 172.894).

2020r01 Daytona Test Friday Speeds

Teams hope the weather is more cooperative Saturday, the second day of the two-day test, which is in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 on Saturday, February 8. A morning session begins at 9 a.m. ET, while the afternoon session is set to start at 1 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring will be available throughout the day at ARCARacing.com.

Here’s a video, courtesy of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, of an interview Deegan gave before the rain came:

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Hailie Deegan: ‘It’s definitely been a struggle’ finding sponsorship

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K&N Pro Series West star Hailie Deegan hasn’t announced her racing plans for the 2020 season yet, despite there being just one race left on her K&N schedule this season, Saturday’s season finale at ISM Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on fanschoice.tv/6 p.m. ET Nov. 14 on NBCSN).

One part of that?

Sponsorship.

The 18-year-old driver was a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Skinner Round-up” Monday where she discussed her “struggle” in finding partners to put together a schedule. While racing in both K&N Series the last two years and part-time in the ARCA Menards Series this season, her sponsors have included Monster Energy, iK9 and NAPA.

“People think it’s easy, think it’s ‘Oh, you get media, you get attention, you get sponsors.’ It’s not that easy,” Deegan said. “At the end of the day there’s not usually just one person that covers all your funding, it takes help from a lot of areas. I’m really just looking at finding partners who want to really commit with me for the long run. So it’s definitely been a struggle and can already tell it’s going to be a struggle in the future.”

Deegan has three K&N West wins since last year. She’s only the second woman to win a NASCAR sanctioned race and she has an uncanny habit of doing it it in dramatic fashion.

Two of those wins came this season. In six ARCA starts this season, she has four top-10 finishes. Her best finish was fifth at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Deegan shared what she would hope for from a dream schedule in 2020 if money wasn’t an issue.

“If I had the dream scenario, unlimited budget, which not many people have, which I don’t have, I wish, I’d say I’d be running full ARCA with K&N East,” Deegan said. “Maybe throw in Sonoma for the West Series. … I haven’t looked at the East schedule yet. It all depends on when the schedules get released.

“One thing I really want to do is race (the) Eldora (Gander Outdoors) Truck race. That’s like a dream goal for me for next year.”

Deegan explained to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio what appeals to her about getting time in the K&N East series, where she has 14 starts and a best finish of ninth two times.

“I think the K&N East competition, I feel like the knowledge just from being on the East Coast and the tools they have out there they can use it just helps a lot more with the setups,” Deegan said. “Being out in the West Coast, it’s a little harder just because you don’t have the resources necessarily that the East Coast does and all the people with their knowledge out there.

“But we still make it work for the West Coast, everything’s good out there, but I’d say the East Coast level they just have those resources. And the ARCA series, I feel like the ARCA series has some good competition. There’s a solid top eight to 10 guys that if you brought them into the K&N seres could probably win.”

Hailie Deegan joins DGR-Crosley for K&N East Bristol race

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Hailie Deegan will compete for DGR-Crosley in Thursday night’s K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the team announced Monday.

Deegan, 18, competes full-time in the K&N West series and has made 12 starts in the East Series the last two years. All her K&N starts have come with Bill McAnally Racing.

This will be her first start for the team co-owned by David Gilliland, who fields two K&N cars and three entries in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Deegan will drive the No. 54 Toyota with sponsorship from iK9. She’ll have Ty Gibbs and Tanner Gray as teammates.

“It’s awesome that we were able to work with DGR-Crosley on running the K&N East race at Bristol,” Deegan said in a press release. “They have top-notch equipment and people within their organization. Every weekend they are competing for wins, and as a driver, that’s all you want — a chance to win.”

Deegan, who has three K&N West wins, has made two Bristol starts in the East Series. She finished 22nd last year and 16th earlier this season after a wreck.

The  Bush’s Beans 150 will air live at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday on fanschoice.tv and will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET Aug. 21 on NBCSN.