By: Mitchell Breuer
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ season-opener at Daytona International Speedway proved to be a tough one for Hailie Deegan. After a strong qualifying effort to start ninth, the 19-year-old had a quiet night overall before a spin down the backstretch and into the inside wall hurt her competitiveness and ended the race in the 24th position.
The result could have been better; however, the 2021 season is not about stats for Deegan, instead focusing on learning.
“That is something that I had a long conversation with my crew chief, Mike (Hillman Jr.), about,” Deegan said. “Making our goals for the whole year and making them not goals like going out there and getting a top-five, not goals like that. Actual, real goals like learning stuff about the trucks. Learning how the mechanics work. Building a relationship with my crew guys, earning the respect of the other drivers, things like that.”
Someone who has assisted her in that learning process early on is veteran David Ragan, who Deegan says still does a lot with work inside NASCAR, particularly with Ford, despite not being a full-time competitor anymore.
“He has been crucial for my development,” Deegan said. “Just the level of experience he has and all the knowledge he has that he has been able to feed to me has been so great.”
With the schedule featuring a lot of tracks Deegan has not even been to, she is able to lean on Ragan to gain perspective. While there may unknowns, does not mean that Deegan is excited about certain races, especially the ones that involve dirt.
“I think when it comes to racing, you obviously look forward to the ones that you think you will do the best and be the most comfortable at and I think going to the dirt tracks will be really fun,” Deegan told News From The Pits. “Bristol, I am really excited for the Bristol dirt race.”
The reasons these events excite Deegan is because of their unknowns, Bristol and Knoxville provide an equalizer of sorts because no one has raced there in a truck. She has to deal with drivers with multiple starts at other tracks.
“I think I am very disadvantaged when it comes to all these race tracks because I haven’t been there before and I don’t have a lot of experience in these trucks,” Deegan said. “They handle a lot different than ARCA cars. That is something I am having to learn every single race. I think going there (Bristol and Knoxville) I will be a little more comfortable than a lot of the pavement tracks, but I don’t think as comfortable as a lot of people will be.”
Categories: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series