Hailie Deegan starts big Vegas weekend with K&N Series win
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hailie Deegan has added another big win to her burgeoning racing career.
The 17-year-old driver earned her second career victory in NASCAR’s developmental K&N Pro Series on Thursday night, winning on the dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Deegan claimed the circuit’s season-opening race after starting eighth in the 19-racer field. She even made a final-lap pass in her Bill McAnally Racing Toyota, showing off the racing chops that have marked her as a rising star.
“I am a dirt racer, and I wanted to prove we could be fast on dirt and get it done,” Deegan said Friday. “I wanted to come into this year and really show we can be competitive during this K&N Pro Series West season and go after a championship. We’re here to win races and run for a championship.”
Deegan capitalized on the final lap when leader Jagger Jones got held up by lapped cars, executing a nimble pass to win it.
Deegan became the first female winner of a K&N race last September. She eventually was named the series’ rookie of the year, but she isn’t satisfied.
“Last year, I wanted to get that weight off my shoulders and get that first win out of the way,” Deegan said. “I think the only way that we can make it more exciting is more wins and a championship.”
Indeed, Deegan said she remains focused on her K&N career even while she gains momentum for a possible step up to the next level of competition. The Toyota Racing Development driver plans to run six ARCA Series races this season for Venturini Motorsports, starting at Toledo in May.
And the California native’s big Vegas weekend continues Saturday when she’ll drive the Toyota pace car before the Xfinity Series race. Many racing observers won’t be surprised if she ends up competing in Xfinity races in a few years, but she repeated her plan to succeed at every level of racing before she moves up.
“There are a lot of good partnerships going with my ARCA car,” Deegan said. “Between the K&N Pro Series car as well, there is a lot of support that’s coming in. We have to get to more racing and get more wins.”