Last weekend’s K&N Pro Series West win at Meridian Speedway was a historic one. In her first full season in the series, Bill McAnally Racing driver Hailie Deegan became the first woman to win a race at NASCAR’s top regional level.
If you’ve been following her career so far, the question was never if that win was coming, but when.
The daughter of freestyle motocross legend, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series champion, and X Games rallycross gold medalist Brian Deegan, 17-year-old Hailie has been on the rise through the ranks for nearly a decade. The oldest of the three Deegan siblings began racing at just eight years old, and by 2013, had already won her first championship in LOORRS, taking the Junior 2 Kart title.
That led to a move up to Modified Kart racing, where she won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 on the regional and national level. In 2017, she joined her father on the Pro level, stepping into his former Pro Lite as he focused on Pro 2. She earned three runner-up finishes on the way to finishing sixth in the championship.
But all the while, there was a larger plan developing for Deegan’s career—one that would take her off of the dirt and onto pavement.
Joining NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in 2016, Deegan would begin racing in Legends cars for Rev Racing, the Max Siegel-owned team that has in past fielded top Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers like Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Daniel Suarez. The next year, she would join both the NASCAR NEXT program and Toyota’s driver development program and made her first late model starts in the CARS Super Late Model Tour.
McAnally, whose NAPA-backed cars have been a staple of NASCAR racing in the southwest for two decades, came calling for 2018. Deegan made her KNPSW debut at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, earning a seventh place finish and high praise from former Cup champion Kevin Harvick for her talent. She scored her first top five in her fourth race of the year, later taking a pair of runner-up finishes.
Particularly impressive was her run at the Star Nursery 100 on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, the series’ first race on dirt since 1979. Deegan took her first career pole, won the first heat race of the event, and took a second-place finish to only ARCA points leader Sheldon Creed, a fellow off-road convert.
That all built up to last weekend’s action. On the final lap of the race, Deegan pulled a classic stock car bump and run, moving her teammate Cole Rouse out of the way to take the victory. It was the only lap of the race that she led.
With two rounds left in the season, Deegan sits fifth in points. She’s become a major force in marketing of the sport, including taking on a large role in NASCAR Heat 3, and her future prospects appear to include a move up to the national level in the next couple of years. And with her first stock car win already in the books, expect more to come from one of the sport’s most talented young drivers.