Hailie Deegan is nearing the end of her first full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, and she is ready for even more opportunities. The driver of the No. 1 David Gilliland Racing Ford has made it clear that she wants to continue competing in the Truck Series while adding more races to her schedule.
Deegan made the comments during a recent trip to the “Sports Business Journal” headquarters. She met with Adam Stern to discuss her future and her current plans for the 2022 season. Part of the process is finding new sponsors and partners that can help Deegan get to the track each week, but her primary focus remains on continuing to compete.
“My hope is to race full-time trucks, and that’s kind of the plan right now whether we’re fully funded or not. That’s my goal,” Deegan told Stern. “The hope or the dream would be to race a few Xfinity races by the end of the year to get our feet wet, because that’s obviously where I want to go in the future.”
Deegan added that she doesn’t want to simply stick with the NASCAR series. She expressed a desire to take on road course racing, return to the Superstar Racing Experience after making three starts in 2021, and compete in Micro races.
2021 Has Been a Learning Experience for Deegan
A former ARCA Menards Series driver with four top-five finishes in 2020, Deegan made the leap to the Camping World Truck Series in 2021. She partnered with David Gilliland Racing and focused on growing as a competitor.
Through 14 races, Deegan has not cracked the top 10 in the No. 1 DGR Ford. She has five top-20 finishes to her name — 19th at Bristol on dirt, 17th at Richmond, 13th at Kansas, 14th at Circuit of the Americas, and 13th at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Deegan has not had many opportunities to practice during her rookie Truck Series season due to guidelines implemented amid COVID-19. Instead, she has had to head out to the various circuits with little experience and fight for position with her peers. Though she has spent a considerable amount of time in the Ford simulator trying to learn these tracks before taking them on in person.
“It’s very tough — the lack of practice, the lack of seat time going to these tracks,” Deegan told Stern. “Going to Watkins Glen. I’ve never been to Watkin Glen before, but I’m going to have to take the green flag for my first lap there and figure it out.”
Deegan Can Make Positive Strides During the Remaining Races
With only one race remaining in the Camping World Truck Series regular season, Deegan is out of opportunities to make the playoffs. She is 17th in points, below the playoff cut line, and can only leapfrog several of her peers by winning at a track where she has no experience.
While she likely won’t lock up a spot in the playoffs, Deegan can continue to make positive strides in the eight remaining races. She can fight for her first top-10 finish of the season at tracks where she already raced in 2021. The list of options includes Darlington Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
One race to watch will be the return to Bristol Motor Speedway. Deegan previously took on the track on March 29, but it was a very different racing surface. The first Truck Series race took place on a dirt surface, marking the first time in NASCAR history. The return trip, on the other hand, will feature the standard .533-mile concrete oval.