There won’t be any female drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, but that won’t be the case in one of NASCAR’s feeder series.
Hailie Deegan is slated to run a full K&N Pro Series West schedule in 2018 with Bill McAnally Racing, as well as select K&N Pro Series East races, the team announced Wednesday, according to NASCAR. The 16-year-old is the youngest member of the current NASCAR Next class.
Deegan, along with other Toyota development drivers, completed a test with BMR in 2017 that ultimately landed her the drive.
“It didn’t feel like an audition at the moment, but then a week later, I realized it was,” Deegan told NASCAR.com’s Pat DeCola. “But when I was there I thought they just wanted to practice since we’re out there but it ended up being like an audition and I ended up getting picked for it, which is really cool. That was a nice little confidence booster.”
Although Deegan has some experience driving stock cars, she’s raced off-road trucks since she was 8, and competed full time in the category last year. She’s essentially been around motorsport her entire life, however, as her father, Brian Deegan, is the most successful freestyle motocross rider in X Games history and spent a six seasons — including a two-year stint with Chip Ganassi Racing — in Red Bull Global Rallycross.
“I think (my dad) has been a pro to the whole situation of being a girl in racing and knowing the racing world,” Deegan said. “There’s not too many girl racers out there, let alone girls who want to race or have dads who race. Kind of a total package thing where I get a lot of help from my dad. He’s been in the stock car racing world before.”
Despite acknowledging how difficult it is to climb the NASCAR ladder, Deegan is confident about what lies ahead, given Toyota’s track record for ushering young drivers into Cup.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images