Michael Self

Hailie Deegan: Road courses are ‘one of my stronger suits’

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Many drivers will be navigating the Daytona road course for the first time this weekend.

Hailie Deegan is not one of them.

Deegan, who competes in the ARCA Menards Series, will be in the field when the series takes to the 14-turn, 3.61-mile circuit for practice and a race Friday evening (5 p.m. ET on Trackpass).

“I’m pretty excited because this was not one of the races we had planned on our schedule,” Deegan told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast earlier this week. “At the beginning of the year I saw all the races, obviously to see which ones you’re looking forward to, like your favorites and stuff and obviously this on wasn’t on there.  … I like road courses. I raced at Sonoma about twice (in ARCA Menards West). I was decent there, I qualified on the pole one of the times (2019) there against a lot of good drivers. It was a confirmation that, ‘Ok, we’re decent at road courses.'”

Deegan, who enters the race fourth in the point standings behind Michael Self, first got a shot at the road course at the beginning of the year. As a Ford development driver, she took part in multiple days of testing before competing in a Michelin Pilot Challenge race in a GT4 Mustang.

“I would not say I’m perfect at road courses,” Deegan said. “But I feel that’s one of my stronger suits. I’m trying to learn this whole stock car world. Circle track, everything like that, that’s all been a foreign concept. So everything I’m learning I’m learning for the first time. But when we go back to road courses, I grew up in go karting, I grew up racing off-road trucks on courses where you turn right and left. So that’s not a foreign concept to me. So I feel more comfortable on road courses, especially with us only getting an hour of practice and all the time I have on that track.

“I have so many days of practice from the beginning of the year on that track. Obviously, it’s a different car, a GT4 Mustang.  … It’s easy to drive, but hard to be fast in an IMSA car. (While) the stock cars are harder to drive, but you have that experience, I feel like you can have a little bit of an advantage over people.”

With eight races left in the season, Deegan will try to take that advantage to victory lane for her first career ARCA win. The last time she visited Daytona in February, she finished second in the season opener to Self.

Ty Gibbs wins second ARCA race of season

Photo courtesy: ARCA Menards Series
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Ty Gibbs, grandson of NASCAR team owner and former Super Bowl winning head coach Joe Gibbs, won his second race of the season in Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150 at Kentucky Speedway.

The 17-year-old Gibbs beat runner-up Bret Holmes to the checkered flag by 1.247 seconds. It was Holmes’ best career finish in 67 starts in ARCA competition. Points leader Michael Self finished third, followed by Sam Mayer and Drew Dollar.

Gibbs has now won two of the four starts he’s made in the series this season. He also won at Pocono, finished third in his season opener at Phoenix and was 15th last week at Indianapolis.

Gibbs has now won seven races across the ARCA Menards, East and West series over the previous two seasons.

With Satuday’s victory, Gibbs became Kentucky Speedway’s youngest race winner at 17 years, nine months and seven days, breaking the previous mark held by two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch, who had just turned 18 when he won at the 1.5-mile track back in 2003.

Hailie Deegan wrecked on Lap 77 and finished 14th, dropping her from second to fourth in the point standings, 24 points now behind series leader Michael Self.

The ARCA Menards Series’ next race is next Saturday, July 18, at Iowa Speedway, the seventh race of the season. It will be televised live on MAVTV and streamed on TrackPass on NBC Gold.

Click here for Saturday’s race results.

 

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Winners and Losers after opening weekend of Daytona Speedweeks

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WINNERS

Erik JonesLet’s see, overshoots his pit stall, involved in three accidents … and wins the Busch Clash a year after finishing last in this event. Even he couldn’t believe it. “I don’t know if it’s the biggest win,” Jones said of his career, “but definitely one of the coolest. I mean, just from an aspect that me and my friends will laugh about this one for a long time looking back at it, wondering how we won.” They won’t be the only ones.

History repeating (sort of) — Credit Erik Jones and his team for attempting to duplicate the victory lane photo of Terry Labonte and his team after Labonte won at Bristol in 1995 with a smashed car. Jones’ damaged car wasn’t too far off from Labonte’s.

JTG Daugherty Racing — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets the accolades for winning the Daytona 500 pole with his new team, but let’s also give credit to the team for the car and its alliance with Hendrick Motorsports that gave the car Hendrick power.

Brendan Gaughan and Justin HaleyBoth are guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500 after being the two fastest among the non-chartered cars in qualifying.

Hailie DeeganMichael Self won his second ARCA race at Daytona on Saturday but Deegan finished second in her first series race at Daytona. Her finish ties the highest result for a female driver in series history.

LOSERS

Team (Penske) camaraderie — Brad Keselowski was livid with teammate Joey Logano for blocks that led to both crashing, along with Kyle Busch. Said Keselowski of Logano’s blocking: “We were in a position to finish it off, and we got destroyed for no reason. You would think these guys would be smarter than that. … Somebody throws a stupid block that’s never going to work and wrecks half the field and then goes ‘eh.’ Maybe we need to take the helmets out of these cars and take the seat belts out. Somebody will get hurt and then we’ll stop driving like assholes.”

History — Never before in the history of the Busch Clash has the eighth-place car finished 10 laps down. That’s where Ryan Blaney placed because of a crash. Only six cars were running at the end of Sunday’s event.

Martin Truex Jr. He was eliminated by a crash in the Clash for the third time in the last four years.

Hailie Deegan says runner-up finish at Daytona is like winning

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael Self celebrated, but Hailie Deegan and her family rejoiced Saturday night.

Deegan finished second to Self in her first ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway. Deegan’s finish tied Shawna Robinson and Erin Crocker for the best finish by a female in an ARCA race. Robinson finished second at Daytona in 1999. Crocker placed second three times, the last time in 2007 at Kentucky.

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

“Second is winning this weekend,” said Deegan, who moved from Toyota’s development program to Ford’s development program in the offseason. “I think winning the first race would have been a little too high of standards for us this season. Everything would have been downhill. So at least I have something to work toward.”

The 18-year-old smiled as she spoke.

Her father couldn’t stop smiling. He and wife, Marissa, embraced Hailie after the race with Marissa shouting “awesome!”

“Her day will come,” Brian Deegan said on pit road of his daughter. “She’s got momentum. The main thing with her is she had a lot of momentum at the beginning of last year. Once she gets momentum, it’s on. She doesn’t want to lose. She’ll work 18 hours a day. She’ll work at the gym, study tape. She’s serious. We’re on a mission.”

Saturday’s mission for Deegan was to learn. She ran in the top 10 most of the race and learned from spotter Eric Holmes, who encouraged her at times and told her what not to do other times.

Most of the incidents were behind her in Saturday’s 80-lap race but one happened in front of her. She was pushing Chuck Hiers through Turn 2 when the contact turned Hiers and sent him into the wall.

“There were moments where I thought, ‘God, I shouldn’t have done that,’ “ Deegan said. “And there were moments when it was like, ‘Okay, that is good.’ People have to keep in mind we are ARCA racing. We aren’t Cup racing. We aren’t Xfinity racing. Most of the people here are here to learn and eventually get to that level and work out the kinks at this level.

“I think I learned a lot of good takeaways from this race. Some things I could have tried and been more aggressive on, but everything I did in this race got us that second place finish.”

Next for Deegan and the ARCA Series will be March 6 at Phoenix Raceway.

“I feel like the first race sets the tone for the season,” she said Saturday. “Having a good first race can help keep the ball rolling and help the guys at the shop. When you are on a nice, positive high level, you bounce that off each other and the work ethic and it just helps for the rest of the year.”

Michael Self, Hailie Deegan finish 1-2 in ARCA season opener

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Michael Self held off a last-lap challenge by Hailie Deegan to win Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

Self started from the pole and led 60 of the 80 laps in the 200-mile event. It was Self’s eighth career ARCA win (in 40 starts), including his second triumph in the season opener at Daytona.

“This is amazing, man, to start the season off like this, it’s unbelievable,” Self told FS1. “It’s just a great day overall. What an amazing car, to have our (Venturini Motorsports) cars finish 1 and 3 (teammate Drew Dollar) is unbelievable.”

Making her rookie effort at Daytona, Deegan becomes the third female (Erin Crocker three times and Shawna Robinson once) to finish runner-up in a race in ARCA Menards Series history. It was also her best finish in seven ARCA starts thus far.

“Coming into this race, my first goal was to finish, second goal was top 3 to top 5, I would have been ecstatic,” Deegan told FS1. “To come out here and finish second, runner-up, nothing could have been better. Obviously, every driver wants to win, but this was a victory for me.”

There were several incidents in the 80-lap, 200-mile event, but none bigger than a wreck on Lap 39 when more than a dozen cars were involved in a high-speed wreck. Among notable drivers involved were David Gravel, Natalie Decker, Andy Seuss and Dominique Van Wierengen.

On Lap 50, Deegan made slight contact with the right rear corner of Chuck Hiers, sending him head-on into the wall. Hiers and Deegan were running fifth and sixth at the time. Deegan’s car was not damaged in the incident.

With 11 laps to go, 2018 NHRA Pro Stock champ Tanner Gray’s day ended early when he was sent to pit road by ARCA officials due to excessive smoke from under the hood. Gray was running fourth when his motor let go.

The next ARCA Menards Series race is March 6 at Phoenix Raceway.

ARCA Daytona results

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