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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.”

Sam Mayer on verge of historic K&N East title

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One month and some change are all that stand between Sam Mayer and making NASCAR history.

That is the age difference between Mayer, a K&N Pro Series East driver this season, and Todd Gilliland around this time in 2016 when he won the K&N Pro Series West championship.

Mayer – at 16 years, three months and eight days – will be just under two months younger than Gilliland (16 years and five months) when he rolls off the grid for Friday’s K&N East season finale at Dover International Speedway (can be viewed live at 5 p.m. ET on FansChoice.tv. It will air tape delayed at 6 p.m. ET Oct. 11 on NBCSN).

When that happens, Mayer — who was born June 26, 2003 and still doesn’t have a driver’s license – will be the youngest champion in NASCAR history.

The GMS Racing driver enters the 12th and final race with three wins. He’s finished in the top five in all but one race this year.

Those wins came in two races at Bristol and at Iowa Speedway. He has a 30-point advantage over second-place driver Chase Cabre.

“Having the opportunity to go out and potentially be the youngest driver to ever win a NASCAR championship is absolutely amazing,” Mayer said in a media release. “I can’t thank GMS Racing, Chevrolet and Drivers Edge Development enough for everything they have done this year to get me and my team where we are right now. I’m really excited to go back to Dover and have a shot to win, and to take home a championship.”

A native of the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin, Wisconsin, Mayer also has one start and one top five in the K&N West this year, a fourth-place finish at Gateway in August.

Mayer also made his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut this season at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, where he finished 21st after being eliminated in a crash.

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.

Hattori Racing’s K&N team to use Japanese pit crew at Iowa Speedway

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Tonight’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway (airs 7 p.m. ET July 31 on NBCSN) will provide a major first in the lives of a handful of crew members on pit road.

It will mark the first time the six pit crew members for Hattori Racing Enterprises will ever take part in a pit stop.

Also, it’ll be the first time they’ve ever been to a NASCAR race.

The reason?

Hattori will be using six Japanese students to crew Max McLaughlin‘s No. 1 Toyota when the race is paused for pit stops under a competition caution.

The six students were chosen from three Toyota Technical College campuses in Japan – located in Kobe, Nagoya, and Tokyo – based on merit and performance to come to the U.S. for a two-week NASCAR immersion program with Hattori Racing Enterprises.

The NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, offered both classrooms and hands-on instruction in multiple areas of NASCAR racing. The classroom training also covered cultural topics to help the students acclimate to American society as most have never even been to the United States of America.

Most of the student’s studies and training in Japan focused on production vehicles.

“It’s exciting for our team to host these students and offer them firsthand experience of NASCAR racing,” team owner Shige Hattori said in a statement. “Our team has enjoyed this program with Toyota Technical College for several years and NASCAR Technical Institute is a big part of it. Most of the students that have participated in the program aren’t familiar with NASCAR racing, so it’s a big help for them to get the training and instruction at NTI before heading to the track.”

“This is the eighth year of this program, and none of the students or teachers from Japan have ever been to the United States. The classes and training really help them understand life in the U.S. and the culture here. It’s a big transition for students to be here for two weeks, but NTI’s program is a huge help for them during their time here and is something that sticks with them for the rest of their life.”

Pit crew members

Furamu Hori

Chikashi Ichino

Tatsunori Suda

Takumi Tanihira

Yusuke Shuto

Masato Ksaminaga

Northwest racer Brittney Zamora progressing in K&N West competition

Photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography/NASCAR
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Stock-car racing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the Pacific Northwest, but make no mistake, despite being the only region in the continental United States without a NASCAR national series race, the Northwest has produced plenty of talented drivers who achieved success in NASCAR’s highest levels.

Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Mike Bliss and Derrike Cope are all drivers who once called the Northwest home, and Kennewick, Washington’s Brittney Zamora hopes to become the next Northwest racer to become a NASCAR star.

At age 20, Zamora may be a NASCAR K&N West Series rookie, but she enters the series with an impressive racing resume.

Born into a racing family, Zamora began racing karts at age four. She went on to race in the Northwest Super Late Model Series, where she would win Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, and won championships in 2017 and 2018.

Zamora’s success in late models led to the opportunity to drive the No. 99 ENOS/NAPA Filters Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing this season in the West Series, as well as on part-time basis in the East Series. Through seven K&N West Series events, Zamora has four top fives, five top 10s, 26 laps led and one pole.

“It’s been a pretty good start,” Zamora told NBC Sports. “A lot of people have expectations for me to go out there, but my expectations for myself are a little higher. I’m disappointed that we haven’t gotten that win yet.”

Regardless, Zamora believes she’s on the right track. When asked what grade she would give her performance this year, Zamora gave herself “a B+ or an A-.

“For our first year in the series, and with the competition out here, we’ve done really well progressing and achieving our goals,” Zamora said. “We’ve already met a lot of our goals and we’re only halfway through the season. As long as we can keep improving and keep setting those goals and reaching for them, (we’ll be fine).”

Zamora insists she would have never made it into the sport without the help of her racing hero.

“A lot of drivers get asked ‘who’s your biggest idol in racing?’ and they’ll say A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, one of the guys in the Cup Series or someone like that. Mine would have to be my dad,” Zamora said.

“He is who got me into racing. I went to the racetrack when I was four days old to go watch him with my family. It’s been my whole life. Growing up and seeing him win championships racing super late models, I wanted to follow in his footsteps, and not only have I done that but I went beyond that with his help and support. I wouldn’t be here today without him.”

Brittney’s father, Mike Zamora, raced across the Northwest for more than 20 years. Once it was time for Brittney to move up to those cars, Mike gave up his seat and began serving as her crew chief.

In the K&N West competition, however, Mike finds himself watching his daughter race from a distance. He and Brittney still find plenty of time to talk to each other during race weekends, and Mike offers his daughter advice when she asks for it, but he doesn’t get to be as hands-on with her K&N car as he is in late models.

“I don’t mind it at all, but it was kind of hard to take a step back because with our racing, I’m so involved,” Mike said.

“I’m the crew chief. We’re building the cars ourselves in our garage. With Bill McAnally Racing, they have guys that this is what they’re doing for a living and they’re better at this than I am. It’s hard to just sit back and watch, but I know that she’s in good hands.”

Though it is too early to predict how her racing career will turn out, she is on the right track to hone her racing skills.

“I’ve thought about this my whole life because I want racing to be my career,” Zamora said. “I don’t want a normal job. I want to be in a race car. Holding a steering wheel is my profession.”

“The Cup Series would be great. It’s the highest level of stock car racing there is, but honestly if I could make a career out of racing ARCA, Trucks, or Xfinity, I would be happy. As long as I’m in a race car competing every weekend, that would be nice.”

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