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iK9 will back Hailie Deegan in six ARCA starts

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Hailie Deegan has landed iK9 as a supporter for her six scheduled starts in the ARCA Menards Series this season.

Deegan will make her series debut at Toledo Speedway on May 19.

The canine security services and training company will be a primary sponsor of Deegan in the May 31 race at Pocono Raceway and an associate sponsor in the remaining five races.

After Toledo and Pocono, Deegan will compete at Madison International Speedway (June 14), Elko Speedway in New Market, Minnesota (July 13), Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana (Oct. 5) and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 18).

iK9 will make its debut with Deegan ahead of the ARCA races as her primary sponsor in the April 6 K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to build my NASCAR career and I’m extremely proud to represent iK9 along with Toyota, TRD, Monster Energy and Craftsman,” Deegan said in a press release. “Partnerships are key to earning these kinds of opportunities, and iK9’s mission appeals to who I want to be as a racer and also as a person.”

Deegan competes full-time in the K&N Pro Series West. She won the season-opener in Las Vegas on a last-lap pass to earn her second career victory.

The next K&N West race is March 30 at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California.

iK9 has been aggressive in its sponsorship in NASCAR so far this season. It serves as a primary sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota in the Xfinity Series and sponsored last weekend’s Xfinity race at ISM Raceway.

 

Analyzing the attention on Hailie Deegan after her breakthrough wins

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Hailie Deegan’s victory in the K&N West Series season opener at Las Vegas was only the beginning for the teenager who could be emerging as a NASCAR star.

After the big win (which will be aired on replay at 6 p.m. ET today on NBCSN), Deegan was featured on FS1’s Xfinity practice coverage Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. She drove the pace car at the start of Saturday’s Xfinity race. She also announced a six-race deal Friday to race in the ARCA Series with Venturini Motorsports.

MORE: Hailie Deegan: I put my helmet on the same way everyone else does

During the latest NASCAR America Splash & Go (video above), NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Jarrett said Deegan, who became the first female to win in K&N last year, should take advantage of the exposure from her success.

“You have so many more opportunities in this day and time for these young people and drivers and aspiring Cup drivers,” Jarrett said. “I think she has all the tools to make it happen. You can do and say all the things you want, but if you aren’t making things happen on the track, I think people look at and say, ‘That’s just noise.’ But she’s making noise on the track. She’s done a great of making passes and doing things at the right time. She’s really maximizing everything on the track and off.”

Deegan’s victories come as NASCAR is in a transitory era of trying to promote its next generation of stars. Last year, that was met with some resistance from Cup veterans, particularly when there weren’t many wins by the youthful brigade for several months after Austin Dillon‘s Daytona 500 victory (Erik Jones and Chase Elliott broke through during the summer).

“There’s nothing wrong with speculation, now how far you take before it’s more than what people want, you have to have that success,” Jarrett said. “In the case of the young drivers in the Cup Series, they’re at the top level going against veterans, and it kind of backfired last year.

“In the case of Hailie Deegan, I think right now she’s getting the right type of exposure. She throws in just enough wins and shows the talent and ambition to move forward and maximize this.”

Deegan’s slate with Venturini (which also includes the K&N East race Aug. 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway) will include visits to Pocono Raceway and Kansas Speedway, providing the superspeedway experience she will need to advance.

“What I see in the schedule is she’s getting high-profile races along with difficult tracks,” Jarrett said. “That’s really important to understand that. I like she’s in good equipment in the K&N Series and Venturini has good stuff in ARCA. Especially at difficult racetracks, you don’t want a young driver discouraged. She can learn a lot and maximize her exposure.”

NASCAR America Splash & Go videos are available every Tuesday, you can watch the videos at http://www.nbcsports.com/nascar or by subscribing to the NBC Motorsports’ YouTube channel.

Hailie Deegan to run six ARCA races this season

Nigel Kinrade Photography for NASCAR
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Hailie Deegan, coming off her last-lap pass to win Thursday night’s K&N Pro Series West race, announced that she will drive six ARCA races and one K&N Series race for Venturini Motorsports.

The 17-year-old Toyota Racing Development driver will make her ARCA debut May 19 at Toledo Speedway. She’ll also compete in ARCA races at Pocono Raceway (May 31), Madison International Speedway (June 14), Elko Speedway (July 13), Lucas Oil Raceway (Oct. 5) and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 18). She will drive for Venturini Motorsports in the K&N Pro Series East race Aug. 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

She will have sponsorship from Monster Energy, Craftsman and iK9.

MORE: Hailie Deegan: I put my helmet on the same way everyone else does

So will this ARCA deal lead to a full-time effort in that series next year?

“I think it honestly depends on how this year goes with my K&N Series,” Deegan said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I think if we get that championship, yes, I would want to move up and make that step into a bigger series after we accomplish everything we can in this series. That’s something I really wanted to do with my career is win at every level I’m at before I move up. I think this year in the ARCA Series, I just want to go out there, be able to run in the top five, go out there and maybe get a win.”

Deegan’s win Thursday was her second career K&N Pro Series  West victory. She won last year at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway.

“I wanted to come into this year to really show everyone that we’re going to be competitive during this K&N West season, that I’m going for a championship, that we’re not playing games,” she said. “We’re here to win races.”

Saturday, Deegan will drive the pace car for the Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hailie Deegan scores 2nd career K&N Pro Series West win with last-lap pass

Nigel Kinrade Photography for NASCAR
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Hailie Deegan slipped underneath the car of Jagger Jones on the final lap to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season-opening race late Thursday night at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was the only lap the 17-year-old Deegan led. The victory is her second career win in the series. Deegan won her first career series race last September with a last-lap pass at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway. She is the only woman to win a K&N Pro Series West race.

NBCSN will air the race at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday (March 5).

MORE: Hailie Deegan: I put my helmet on the same way everyone else does

MORE: Jagger Jones set to make own racing mark in K&N debut

Jones, the grandson of famed racer Parnelli Jones, was seeking the win in his first career start. Jones led entering the final lap but was pinched by the lapped car of Kenny Bumbera entering Turn 1. That allowed Deegan to close and get underneath Jones’ car and make the winning pass off Turn 2. Jones charged into Turn 3 and hit Deegan’s car in the back but she held on to win.

 

“I thought … (Jones) is so far away, I was thinking something good is going to have to happen for me to win this race,” Deegan told NASCAR Home Tracks after the race. “He slowly started coming back, slowly starting coming back, but I’m like it’s not enough, we’re not going to catch him by the end.

“The lappers started coming up, and I was like, ‘OK, they’re helping us, they’re helping us.’ They started pulling him back, pulling him back, pulling him back. I was like, man, watch this come down to the last lap again. I’m not coming home in second. We did that last year. I ain’t going to do that again.

“I had to do something to make the move. So I shoved my nose in there, squiggled my way through that corner and just parked around the bottom of (Turns) 3 and 4 and got it done.”

Jones finished second in the 100-lap race. Joey Tanner placed third.

Jones told NASCAR Home Tracks he didn’t have a problem with Deegan’s move.

“Oh I think her move was fine,” Jones said. “I mean she didn’t really do anything too bad. It’s just the lapped car cut me off in front. It just pushed me up the track. Once that all happened she had a whole lane to herself. It was kind of given to her, which is unfortunate on the last lap. It just sucks sometimes.”

The next K&N Pro Series West race will be March 30 at Irwindale (California) Speedway.

Parnelli Jones’ grandson set to make own racing mark in K&N debut

Photo: Jagger Jones.
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What could be the start of a promising NASCAR career begins tonight at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Jagger Jones, the 16-year-old grandson of legendary racer Parnelli Jones, and son of former NASCAR and IndyCar racer P.J. Jones, will make his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut in the Star Nursery 100 (NBCSN will air the race at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday).

The third-generation racer, a junior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona, has spent his life at racetracks. While he only saw his grandfather race on film, from a toddler on, Jagger Jones watched his father race, then climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart himself at the age of 6.

Three generations of the Jones racing family: From left, Parnelli Jones, Jace Jones, Jagger Jones and P.J. Jones. (Photo: Jagger Jones)

I just really fell in love with the sport, and that was it from there,” Jones told NBC Sports. “I grew up at the racetrack, going to the races with my dad and grandpa.

“For me, it’s all I’ve known to do. When I was little, I played with toy cars. When I had dreams, they were about becoming a professional race car driver. I was always influenced by the racing scene, and that’s all I knew, honestly.”

While his grandfather and father spent time in the NASCAR Cup ranks, they’re primarily known for their success in IndyCar and off-road racing. In 1962, Parnelli Jones became the first driver to qualify at more than 150 mph for the Indianapolis 500 and then went on to win The Greatest Spectacle In Racing one year later. He also owned the team when Al Unser Sr. won the 500 in 1970 and 1971, as well as the team that won the 1970-1972 USAC National Championships.

P.J. Jones won IMSA’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1993 and spent several years in the 1990s racing for one of his father’s best friends: Dan Gurney and his All American Racers. P.J. Jones also achieved noteworthy success in off-road racing and most recently competed in a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen in 2017.

But Jagger Jones is determined to bring the family name back to prominence in NASCAR.

“A lot of people wonder why I chose the NASCAR route and why I didn’t follow my grandpa’s route,” he said. “I know a lot about his past and he raced kind of everything and so did my dad. They both raced a lot of IndyCar, NASCAR and off-road.

“For me, I really admire all that, but I wanted to focus on just one thing, especially at this stage of my career, and I decided to go the NASCAR route. … Always being around him and at the racetrack, for sure, my grandfather has influenced me a lot. He’s been a huge supporter of my racing and he’s always helped out, especially the last few years when I moved up from go-karts to late models.

“My dad has always been a huge help in my career, as well. He’s always supported my racing, of course, and no matter what, he’s always trying to help me with sponsors, with on-track stuff and always trying to put me with the best teams, the best situation. Once I told him I wanted to become a professional race car driver, he’s always supported me and did what he could to further my racing.”

Jagger Jones won a Late Model race last year for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s team. (Photo: Jagger Jones)

Jagger Jones already has a number of wins in various series, including a triumph last season while competing in three races for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Late Model team at Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Speedway.

It was seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson that brought Jones to Dale Jr.’s attention.

“I’ve known (Johnson) since I was pretty little, and he’s helped me in my racing career,” Jones said. “We talk every once in a while, which is pretty cool.”

Mature teenager

When Jones takes the green flag in tonight’s race, his grandfather’s and father’s legacies will be riding with him.

“It’s all about the desire to win, putting the work in, going out there, knowing you’re the best, that you can do this and you have the desire to win,” Jones said. “We’re not just out here for fun. Sure, you better be having fun, hopefully when you’re racing, but it’s the desire to win that’s going to really take you somewhere in your career … and doing whatever it takes.”

Jones has been looking forward to his K&N debut for the last two years. While a lot of eyes will be on him due to his surname and family pedigree, he’s prepared.

Jagger Jones and the No. 6 Sunshine Ford Fusion he will drive this year. (Photo: Jagger Jones)

“I just want to go out there and learn,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I’m going to do and focus on, try to learn in every session, listen to other people and really take advice.”

Jones will drive for the No. 6 Sunshine Ford team that won last year’s K&N Pro Series West championship. He’ll also have Bill Sedgwick, a six-time K&N West champion – twice as a driver (1991-92) and four times as a crew chief (2004-05, 2009 and 2013) – as his crew chief.

In a sense, Jones will be following in the footsteps of Hailie Deegan and Todd Gilliland. Deegan won her first K&N race last season and is one of the contenders for the series’ championship this season, while Gilliland – driving full time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports – won the K&N West crown in 2016.

I think 16 is a good age to be moving up into the K&N Series,” Jones said. “Hailie and Todd were about this age when they got their first start with the K&N West.

“People say there’s pressure and I have to perform, that it’s really a big step in my racing career. But for me, if I just do the right things, focus on learning and learning, I think I’ll be fine. I’m not too worried.”

The future will come in time

For Jones, this year’s K&N campaign is a first step toward what he hopes one day will be a move to NASCAR Cup racing. His philosophy is simple: He’ll take things one step at a time. If he enjoys success, promotion to higher series will come naturally.

“There’s a lot of drivers that have come from different backgrounds, different ages and different times, so I don’t think it’s necessary that at 22 you have to be here, at 25, you have to be this or at 18, you have to be here,” he said. “We have a basic plan where we’re doing K&N this year, maybe some ARCA races next year and maybe when I’m old enough, to go to Trucks when I’m 18.

“But really, we just have to play the way the opportunities present themselves, how I’m doing, my experience level, all of that. There’s not a set plan to follow, but definitely a basic outline of how I’m going to get to be racing Sundays full time – within the next seven years I’d say, at the most.”

While Jones’ 85-year-old grandfather won’t be in Las Vegas to watch his grandson, he will be on hand for several upcoming K&N races at tracks closer to his Southern California home. But Jagger’s father, P.J., and mom, Jolaina, will be in Las Vegas, along with Jagger’s 14-year-old brother, Jace, who is taking his older brother’s seat in Late Model racing this season.

(Photo: Jagger Jones)

“I’m really excited,” Jagger Jones said. “The days have been feeling longer once you get closer to a race just because you’re so anxious. But once you do some laps in practice, I think everything settles, and you have a better idea of where you’re at.

“I’ve only tested a K&N car two times, and that was both on pavement. Now, we go into a dirt race, which I’ve never raced on a dirt oval before. There’s a lot of unknown for me. I’ve been watching a lot of videos and talking with people that ran last year, just trying to get as much experience as I can get and be as prepared as I am.”

Making his own way and own name behind the wheel is on Jones’ radar. He chuckles when asked if his parents named him after Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

“My dad probably thought of that, but I wasn’t named after him,” Jones said. “It just kind of came about, and they thought it was a cool name, and they went with Jagger Jones. When you have a last name like Jones, you have to have an interesting first name.”

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