America's Hottest Young Driver Hailie Deegan Heads to Elko in Search of First ARCA Menards Series Victory

America's Hottest Young Driver Hailie Deegan Heads to Elko in Search of First ARCA Menards Series Victory

The hottest driver in all of motorsports right now isn’t Alex Bowman, winner of the recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. It’s not Simon Pagenaud, who drove to victory in the Indianapolis 500, either. Not to take away from either driver’s accomplishments, they aren’t the talk of the sport the way Hailie Deegan is.

Deegan (No. 55 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota) will make her first visit to the three-eighths mile Elko Speedway in Saturday night’s Menards 250. The track, the smallest on the ARCA Menards Series schedule, has a lot of similarities to another three-eighths mile she raced on earlier this season, Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colorado. Deegan competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West there on June 8 and made a last-lap bump-and-run pass for the win, her second of the season and her third career series win. In each of those victories, Deegan made a last-lap pass for the win and each of those passes involved some contact with the leader.

Deegan makes no apologies for her style of full-contact racing. It’s something she’s been taught and the timing of it is no coincidence.

“It’s funny because people say I will be in second and I try to be dirty,” she said. “They say I take my swing on the last lap because I don’t have any other chances. I take my swing on the last lap because I was trained to do it on the last lap. I could do it earlier no problem. But I wait for the last lap because I know if I do it earlier they will come back at me. That’s what my driving coach has taught me. It’s on the last lap and always on the last lap because that’s what really matters. We practice it two or three days a week. Taking your shots with one lap to go. That’s when you have to take your moves. The last race I should have won it easily but there was a caution that took away the twelve car-length lead I had coming to the checkered. It goes by each situation, but people will either love it or hate it. I won’t make everyone happy even when I make the cleanest pass possible.”

While she doesn’t like making comparisons to other drivers, it’s hard to not see the similarities in her take-no-prisoners approach to the last lap and another famous driver’s approach to the same situation.

“I always looked up to Dale Earnhardt coming into racing,” she said. “I think 90 percent of the racers here have. He’s arguably the number one figure in NASCAR, ever. I think it’s something that people respect him a lot and anyone who is a true racer respects Dale Earnhardt. There aren’t any true racers that don’t. People take that differently but in the end he was a badass racer and everyone knew he was.”

Deegan has never been to Elko Speedway before, and although she does have plenty of short track experience and success under her belt so far, she still likes to come to a new venue prepared. She has spent as much time as she can learning the nuances of Elko’s racing surface and characteristics from a far, mostly through reviewing footage of previous races there.

“Tracks that are on the Toyota simulator, I go on that,” she said. “I practice on the simulator at home. I watch a lot of footage. I watch a lot of past races, test sessions, anything I can get my hands on I study as much as I can. When I get on the track I want to be as fast as I can instantly, I don’t want to worry about getting up to speed. I want to get to the track on top of my game. I really like watching old races because you can see where the fast guy is running and what he’s doing different than everyone else. You get to see where you can make passes, which is crucial on these short tracks. That’s the hardest part. Watching it and learning it is like a straight guideline. It’s like having the answers to a test.”

With wins in the K&N Pro Series West already in the record books, Deegan is anxious to get the ball rolling similarly in the ARCA Menards Series. She has a methodical approach, and with a top-ten finish at Pocono she’s now ready for her first ARCA top five run.

“Coming out of the gate really strong is big for me,” she said. “I like to come out of the gate strong and not have to work at it to get up to speed too much. I like to make my goal for each race and then get better throughout the day. The goal for Elko is a top five. We have a top ten in the ARCA series now we need a top five. Once we get that first top five then we’ll adjust to our first win. We need to set a new goal every week and then work our way into it.”

Deegan and the rest of the ARCA Menards Series returns to action on Saturday July 13 in the Menards 250 at Elko Speedway. Practice at Elko Speedway is set for 2:15 pm ET/1:15 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 6:15 pm ET/5:15 pm CT, and the 250-lap feature event will go green shortly after 10 pm ET/9 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV, and ARCA for Me members can follow every lap made by every car entered throughout every on-track session with free live timing & scoring at ARCARacing.com. Discounted tickets to the Menards 250 are available at nearly 40 Minneapolis-St. Paul Menards locations for just $20. For more information, please visit TrackEnterprises.com or call 217-764-3200. 

Comments
Elizabeth  C.

Pulling for you Hailie Deegan, show these guys women can complete and win.

George F.

Impressed with her skill and her passion because racing isn't a child's play. Pay Someone Do My Assignment UK

Trevor T.

A few comments here on taking people out and if I'm not mistaken 100% of them are aimed at Deegan. It's like she's the only one who can be said to have taken people out. You are all kidding, right ?  Anyone here who thinks she hasn't been the target of the male ego since she started racing more than half her 17 year old life ago is kidding themselves. She was taken out in Toledo. She was spun out by the male ego at Sonoma. It could be argued either way that only once in stock car racing she has/hasn't taken someone (Derek Kraus) out. Suck it up boys. She'll give as good as she gets. It's in her DNA. 

RobbyG83

There are times that she makes contact first throughing the race and yea they are going to give right back...it's only fair..... so...if somebody like Derek Kraus race the way he race her....yea, i've give right back too thats fair ...but....my problems is when she moves them outta the way on the last lap on the last corner to win the race by moving someone that has been racing her clean all race and pulls that move on them... to me it's a dirty move and it's not right....like i said I'm truly am a fan of hers but....she needs to change her driving style if she wants to make it in this sport.... If she can dish it she can take it...IT'S RACING!!!  deal with it!!!

RobbyG83

Another thing....her trainer or driver coach is giving her bad adivce to how to race on the track like moving them or wrecking them for the win on the last lap for a example that is bad advice...you NEVER!!! teach them to be a dirty driver and that what that trainer or driving coach is doing and that person should get some on the blame ( 80 to 90 %of it!!)for her driving style....you suppose to race people with respect till they hit you first on the track...then it's game on!!!!   I can do this all day....anything else you want to add!!!!

Trevor T.

In a recent interview she explained why, if she can, she makes the move on the last lap. In short, it gives those she passes less chance of getting back at her. Makes perfect sense really.

RobbyG83

Season isn't over yet....they can pay her back where it cost the most....The Championship!!!!  Ever think about that!!!!  thats what i would do....

RobbyG83

I really mean in my heart of hearts that I'm a fan of hers....she really needs to change her driving style and kick that trainer/driving coach to the curve and get a diffrent driving coach that would teach her the right way of racing people on the track...

JB#21Fan

What I like about ARCA is they have many family owned raced teams.  They have to work just to race and basically if their not at their daily job they are working on their race cars.  They don't have money, volunteer labor, and time to waste repairing race cars because some drivers intentionally will crash you out to get a win.

Mark S.

What goes around, comes around. She hasn't seen the last of the drivers that she has taken out. I am a fan of hers, but that's got to stop. BAD Trainer. Just when you think you've got the race won, one of these guys will take you out. And it may be the race for the championship, when it cost you. Just saying.

 

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