Hailie Deegan is one of the most famous characters in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series. However, its results have not materialized as many expected so far in 2022.
In 2021, conflicts were foreseen. Deegan was only 19 years old and was in one of the top divisions of NASCAR. She finished 17th in points by one of the top 10 finishes. This year after 12 races, Deegan has found herself 25th in the points standings in the series. A jump in performance was expected, but so far it has not.
However, there is news that Deegan is considering holding the Xfinity Series race in 2022.
Is it possible that they are moving too fast? Should she run the Xfinity race in 2022? Discussion of Vito Pugliese and Michael Nebea.
Toil in trucks is not the answer
With the Camping World Truck series coming to the halfway point in the 2022 season, it’s time to think about how a driver or team has performed so far, in relation to their goals for this year, or judge last season’s performance.
If you’ve followed Hailie Deegan’s truck storming so far, you’ll be spared the discomfort of what happened. After last weekend’s race at Sonoma Raceway that started promising with a top-10 qualifying effort, a solid pace in the first stage, only to fall back due to pit problems and an off-road trip on lap 66.
To say she had a slack in her sophomore year would be an understatement – and also to suggest that her first year was a runaway success… which it wasn’t. So what is the decision to correct this mid-level trajectory? Switch crew chiefs? Change manufacturers?
No – take it to a higher level.
Last week, Deegan hinted that an Xfinity starter or two was in the future this year. Given how things have gone so far, this appears to be the opposite of what anyone providing responsible professional guidance would suggest. In her case, I think there’s more upside-down than downside at this point in her development process. As Viper told the clown in Better When the Maverick couldn’t get back into the saddle, “Keep sending him…”
Let’s take a step back to last season, her rising year in the Truck Series.
We were still under COVID protocols from the previous year, so the teams had no training, and as a rookie driver in the series her first look most of the time on the track was to drop the green and sail into Turn One, hoping to stop. Most of the first stage was spent trying to learn how to drive the track, and the second stage trying to make the truck comfortable trying to go fast. This is a really tough situation to put someone in, in gear they’ve never driven, tracks they haven’t seen, and to start around guys who might just have a year or so to prove something and are in a situation of perpetual desperation doing really smart things.
This season seems like a turning point unfortunately. In the past month or so, the first team has had its start in its mid-twenties and ends up somewhere in its mid-teens if there is no accident or catastrophic failure. By comparison, her David Gilliland Racing teammate Tanner Gray usually qualifies about where she is, and after the first few races of the season that saw him win in the top 10, he wasn’t quite any better.
And he didn’t have to deal with a stalker either.
When Deegan arrived in 2019 in the ARCA series, she showed a lot of promise, finishing in the top six (in a series of 10 decent cars) regularly, vying for two wins, without any embarrassing ARCA brake crashes — or starting. In corners at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega Superspeedway. It’s been ported to the truck series probably too soon, but there’s a lot you’ll learn about running in such a slimmed-down series as this one. The Truck Series is remarkably competitive and overly aggressive at times – but that’s the nature of the chain-stay when drivers need to be noticed early and often.
Shooting the Xfinity isn’t too risky either, as expectations can’t be too high given the lack of any significant Ford presence in the series. No Penske cars anymore, Roush is long gone two years ago, and other than entering Riley Herbst’s Stewart-Haas Racing, I’m staying with BJ McLeod and the Sieg family. If there’s anything she can pull off Ford and SHR at this point, it would be training.
Degan’s biggest problem so far appears to be the lack of guidance. She is 20 years old in one of the 3-4 best series in North America, lives 2,500 miles from her family, and desperately needs the kind of guide with the requisite experience and success to help her speed up her and maintain her confidence at this level of racing.
The greatest thing she has so far besides her ability is her attitude. She did not succumb to the pressures and scrutiny that seemed to plague Danica Patrick when she arrived on the scene as the best female in an apparently male-dominated environment. However, her focus seems to be on selling branded merchandise and creating content for her YouTube channel. You get it, it’s part of the game now, and it’s mandatory to master the art of social media to attract sponsorship and stay relevant – along with the obvious monetization opportunity is part of the equation now for any modern competitor starting out.
However, forcing her to focus on being just a driver at a higher level, with some trophy chain effect while doing so may be what puts her on the right track.
To suggest that she has the bust of a 20-year-old is a terribly unfair and baseless argument if you consider the circumstances she has been learning in the past year. She jumped into the trucks after a year at ARCA, and her first truck race as an ARCA rookie was a quiet but clean run in Kansas in 2020. After all, Ty Gibbs has seven wins so far at Xfinity and has never started a Truck Series race. From before. Perhaps she is among some high-ranking talent and the most solid foundation is what you need to know where her potential lies. – Police Vito
No need to hurry
I don’t think Deegan is mentally or professionally ready to jump into Xfinity. We’ve seen drivers rush through the ranks before and it wasn’t very good. Remember Dylan Kwasniewski? He had all the talent in the world and was successful in the lower ranks of NASCAR. He had a big financial sponsor behind him. He was the 2012 NASCAR K&N West Series Champion and was transferred to the Xfinity Series in 2014 and had a disastrous year, finishing only three times in the top 10 in 33 starts. what happened after that? He ran six races in 2015 and was out of NASCAR at the age of 20.
And for what reason? Because sponsor can’t wait to get it to the Xfinity Series? How could it have meaning? There are countless examples of drivers rushing through the ranks and it’s the same story. They are not ready for it, they lose their confidence and soon after that it is over.
I think that was part of Danica Patrick’s Trophy series problems. I think if she ran a few more years in the Xfinity series and gained more familiarity with cars before moving on to the Cup series, she would have been more competitive in the Cup. But because her big financial sponsor wanted her in the Cup Series and she was transferred to the Cup two years later in the Xfinity Series, she couldn’t compete.
For Deegan, this was supposed to be her truck break season. Instead, I took a step back. At this point last season she was 17th in the standings. It currently ranks 25th in points in 2022. Its focus should be entirely on the truck series and improving its performance there. Jumping into longer races and arguably stronger competition is just not a smart idea at this point.
If I were a place for David Gilliland Racing and Ford, I wouldn’t want it to have any other distractions. You’ve gotten quite a few so far this year and another distraction is the last thing you need. The chance to run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is something she can do in the future when things go a little better and her confidence grows.
This season has been one disaster after another for Dejan. She needs another full season without all that pressure before she’s ready for the Xfinity series. The last thing I want to see for Deegan is for her to become the next Kwasniewski. Not only would that be a disaster for her, it would be a disaster for the sport. –Michael Nebya
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