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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.”

Jagger Jones, grandson of Parnelli Jones, scores first NASCAR win

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Jagger Jones, the 17-year-old grandson of famed racer Parnelli Jones, scored his first NASCAR victory, taking the checkered flag in Saturday night’s K&N Pro Series West race at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.

In a statement to NBC Sports, the 86-year-old Parnelli Jones, who won the 1963 Indianapolis 500, said of his grandson’s achievement: “I just knew it was a matter of time until Jagger rose to the top and won at this level. I’m very proud of him. Jagger has worked hard on his racing skills this year and continues to improve and learn.

“Not only is Jagger a good driver but he’s a very good student. I’ve been impressed by both Jagger and Jace (his younger brother) – they continue to work hard and balance their driving with their work in the classroom. They’re outstanding young men on and off the track and I’m truly a very proud grandfather. Jagger and his team earned this win after a successful season and hopefully it’s a building block for the future.”

Hailie Deegan, who started on the pole, overcame an early spin and finished second.

This is Jones’ first season in the series. He had finished runner-up twice, scoring those finishes in his first career series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track in March and at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon, in June.

Trevor Huddleston placed third Saturday night, points leader Derek Kraus was fourth and Todd Souza was fifth.

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Northwest racer Brittney Zamora progressing in K&N West competition

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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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Noah Gragson wins K&N West race at Sonoma after Ryan Preece restart violation

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Noah Gragson won Saturday’s K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway in overtime under caution after Ryan Preece was black flagged for a restart violation.

Gragson, who competes full-time in the Xfinity Series, earned the win after battling back from his own restart violation in the first segment of the 57-lap race.

The race needed three overtime attempts to reach the checkered flag. The second was setup by a Lawless Alan wreck that resulted in a red flag. The final attempt was created by a Bill Kann wreck on the ensuing restart.

It was the restart from the Kann accident where Preece was deemed to have jumped the start.

Gragson restarted third and passed Daniel Hemric to put himself in position to inherit the win.

“Hell of race,” Gragson told NASCAR.com. “I was very fortunate to have a really fast Switch Camaro thanks to Jeff Jefferson and Jerry Pitts at Jefferson Pitts Racing. … Kind of had a little bit of adversity there in the middle of the race. Got called for jumping the start as the leader. Never really heard that one before.”

Ryan Preece said he was “pissed” and called the penalty “bull(expletive)” and declared “we won that race.”

“On the restart before that I was rolling it pretty fast and Daniel I think was restarting in second gear,” Preece said. “I heard that coming to the (final) green, so I backed down at the restart, I slowed down. … Maybe it looked like it, but I didn’t go any sooner.”

When asked if he would talk to NASCAR, Preece responded, “What are you going to do? I mean it’s their playground, it’s their sandbox. They’re going to do what they want. They manipulated the race at the end of the day. We won that race.”

Gragson was one of five national series drivers competing in the race.

The final top five was Gragson, Hemric, Austin Dillon, Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer and David Mayhew.

Pole-sitter Hailie Deegan never led a lap and finished eighth. Preece was scored finishing 20th after his penalty.

Gragson’s win comes in his first K&N West race since 2016. He now has five wins in 28 starts. He also has two wins in the K&N East series.

It also serves as a bit of redemption for Gragson, who led 34 laps in this race in 2016 before finishing second to Chase Elliott.

The race will air tape delayed June 27 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Hailie Deegan wins pole for K&N West race at Sonoma

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Hailie Deegan won the pole for today’s K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway, claiming her fourth career K&N West pole and her second of the year.

Deegan earned the pole with a speed of 91.105 mph around the road course. It’s her second pole this year.

Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson qualified second.

The top five is completed by Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer, Cup driver Ryan Preece and Jagger Jones.

Cup driver Daniel Hemric qualified sixth and Austin Dillon qualified 11th.

The race is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET and can be watched live at fanschoice.tv. The race will air tape delayed June 27 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Deegan is looking for her third win of the year and seeking back-to-back victories after her dramatic win two weeks ago following last-lap contact with teammate Derek Kraus.