By: Mitchell Breuer
Hailie Deegan impressed many at Knoxville Raceway, when she scored a runner-up in her Camping World SRX Series debut this past Saturday.
In a year where she has not had the season expected, some doubted whether she had truly earned her place to run in a series full of legendary figures.
Deegan though quickly silenced doubters, racing alongside eventual race-winner, Tony Stewart for most of the event. A showing like this not only showed she belongs, but also gave herself a sense of comfort.
“I think that getting that second-place in my first SRX race it was more so just exciting,” Deegan told News From The Pits. “I don’t want to say confident because people are going to be like ‘oh, she is confident, now she has to go win the next race.’ I would say that it more gives me comfort for myself, like we are doing good, you still got some talent. Don’t question it.”
While she hopes the success she found in SRX can translate to NASCAR, one thing that will is the lessons learned just from being around a field stacked full of superstars.
“I love talking to everyone because there are so many legendary drivers in the series, and the conversations that you have, everybody comes from a different background and has their own stories, everybody has their own journey,” Deegan said. “To just be able to pick their brain, and being able to talk to Tony Stewart, and just be able to have him help me set up a car and give me some tips and tricks here and there. That is all super helpful and things that I will be able to take into the rest of my career.”
In addition to driver feedback, Deegan may be able to gain from her on track experience at Knoxville for when the trucks travel back in a few weeks, saying there is similarities to how an SRX car raced on dirt to how a NASCAR truck does, comparing her time in the car on Saturday, to her run early this season at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race.
“Obviously, the tracks are different, Knoxville and Bristol are both very different dirt tracks,” Deegan said. “The dirt is different, the banking is different, there are a lot of different factors but, handling wise when it came to the actual SRX car, it handled very similar.”
Before Deegan gets back to Knoxville though, she will turn her attention this weekend to the truck race at Pocono Raceway, where she starts 19th in Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150. She will be back in SRX for the July 10 race at Slinger Speedway.