Hailie Deegan will step into a NASCAR truck for the first time on 17 October. On Wednesday, she announced she would make her NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series début in the Clean Harbors 200 at Kansas Speedway, driving the #17 Ford F-150 for DGR-Crosley with Ford backing.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even really planning Trucks this year, but in order for me to qualify for the races I want to run in the future, I have to run this race,” Deegan said in a video posted on social media. “So it’s definitely gonna be hard, it’s gonna be challenging, I think our goal is just to finish the race. At the end of the day, we’re still trying to finalise our 2021 plans, so stay tuned for those.”
The daughter of motocross star Brian Deegan, she is in her rookie season in the ARCA Menards Series for DGR-Crosley. Deegan sits third in points with top-ten finishes in all but three races; she also holds four top fives including a pair of runner-up finishes in the opener at Daytona and the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The latter race, the most recent event in the ARCA schedule, was a return to familiar territory for Deegan, who enjoyed success in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series prior to moving to stock cars (a similar path taken by drivers like NASCAR great Jimmie Johnson and soon-to-be-Truck-opponent Sheldon Creed).
A former member of the Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, Deegan broke through the stock car ranks with Toyota in 2018 when she became the first female driver to win in the now-ARCA Menards Series West. The following year, she scored two more wins en route to a third-place points finish.
Deegan joined Ford Performance’s driver development stable for the 2020 racing season, which primarily consisted of her ARCA campaign with DGR-Crosley (incidentally, the team had also made the switch from Toyota to Ford). Her slate also included dabbling in sports cars with the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, where she raced for Multimatic Motorsports alongside another Ford development driver in current Xfinity Series points leader Chase Briscoe.
DGR-Crosley fields one full-time truck for Tanner Gray, who is thirteenth in the standings; like Deegan, Gray took a fairly unconventional route into stock cars, entering via drag racing. The #17 has seen limited action in 2020 with David Ragan and Dylan Lupton, while Korbin Forrister piloted the truck in the latest race at Talladega after his All Out Motorsports team leased owner points to DGR-Crosley to lock it into races (the truck had missed two races as qualifying has not been held since the season resumption due to COVID-19). Ragan, a former Cup driver, holds the #17’s best finish of the year with a seventh at Richmond.