ThorSport Racing officially added Hailie Deegan to the team on December 15. The California native completed the driver lineup and prompted some strong words from the Craftsman Truck Series team.
Deegan and Allison Thorson, advisor and spokesperson for ThorSport Racing, met with media members on December 15 and provided more details about the partnership. They talked about the opportunities that will be present during the 2023 season, and they explained why this is a great fit for everyone involved.
“We were also reviewing our driver lineup at the time like many other teams,” Thorson explained. “‘What are we doing for the next season’ and stuff like that, and Hailie was ready. That was obviously a top topic to talk about, ‘Where is Hailie gonna go?’
“Immediately, I know from our management perspective, we had open arms and thought there was a lot of potential. She has a large following and a lot of backing. Obviously, being a female driver she brings a lot to the table, but ThorSport, we kind of welcomed her into the family and we know she’s got a lot of potential and can fulfill it. We really feel like we have those key parts and, like she said, pieces to the puzzle make her meet her goals and exceed her goals and make new goals.”
One of those key parts will be the crew chief that will lead the No. 13 team. Rich Lushes will move over to Deegan’s group after leading Ben Rhodes and the No. 99 team to a championship. Lushes also helped Myatt Snider win Rookie of the Year in 2018.
Ford Performance Would Not Let Deegan Get Away
Deegan may have driven a Toyota during her time in the ARCA Menards Series West, but she joined Ford Performance in 2020 while driving for David Gilliland Racing. She has remained part of the Blue Oval ever since, something that will not change in the near future.
Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, explained why Deegan is such a pivotal piece of the team. He has seen how she has developed as a driver on the track and as a team member preparing for each event on the schedule.
“We love watching the development drivers progress and advance on the track and off the track,” Rushbrook said during the media session. “And watching that maturity of Hailie in terms of how she evaluates a car or a truck on the racetrack, can break it down and articulate it back to her crew chief and team to set the direction the car needs to go. That I think has advanced significantly both on the track and when she’s working in the simulator with the team as well.”
Rushbrook used the media session to express optimism about the new situation, as well as the reunion with ThorSport Racing. He noted that ThorSport Racing and all of the people that surround Deegan should only help her reach the next level of her career.
The Surrounding Talent Has Multiple Championships
Deegan made history multiple times while driving for David Gilliland Racing. Now she will join a team with multiple championships to its name. This means that there will be some added pressure on her, but that is now how she is approaching the season.
As Deegan explained, she views the pressure as an opportunity. She will have an opportunity to perform with quality equipment, which she called a dream scenario, and she will have an opportunity to pursue wins while working with Lushes in 2023.
Deegan will also have a group of experienced teammates. There is a three-time champion in Matt Crafton, 2021 champion Ben Rhodes, and two-time race winner Ty Majeski. All have more experience than Deegan, and they can provide some key insight.
“There’s just so much experience that I’m lacking that they have had over the years,” Deegan said. “I don’t even have questions yet, but will in the future that they’ll be able to answer. I think there’s just gonna be so many quality conversations and so many quality moments at the track that they’re really gonna help out and be that kind of person who has my back.
“I can see already that the whole aspect over here and part of it is being close-knit, being like a family-type scenario, and I think that having a team like that who has those relationships is what makes drivers feel comfortable and excel in their career.”
There is still considerable time remaining before Deegan makes her official ThorSport Racing debut. She will not hit the track until she heads to Daytona International Speedway in February. However, there is a considerable amount of optimism in the Ohio facility as ThorSport Racing and Deegan prepare for a pivotal 2023 season.