Things apparently got heated last weekend between teen phenom and a longtime NASCAR veteran.
Todd Souza, 54, confronted 18-year-old Hailie Deegan following the conclusion of Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Worldwide Technology Raceway. The respective crews for both drivers were involved in the incident, as well, according to NASCAR Home Tracks.
The disagreement stemmed from a collision that occurred on the final green/white/checkered restart. The contact reportedly left a hole in the rear bumper of Souza’s No. 13 Toyota. Deegan finished ninth in the Monaco Cocktails Gateway Classic 125, while Souza finished 10th.
Check out this summary of the incident, via NASCAR Home Tracks’ Davey Segal:
“Deegan returned to her hauler to see Souza and his crew chief, Michael Munoz, visibly and audibly frustrated. The two needed to be restrained by Bill McAnally Racing general manager Kevin Bellicourt, as they were voicing their displeasure at Deegan’s crew chief Kyle Wolosek.”
Unsurprisingly, Deegan and Souza have very different views of what took place on the track.
“She jacked me up going into Turn 1 underneath the rear of my car,” Souza told NASCAR.com. “We hadn’t been around her all race. We were a little bit off, fought back, got our lap back, made some changes and got the car better. I guess she caught the lucky dog after she went a lap down from the tire blowout she had, and I guess she thought that was a desperate move for her, to start moving people with her car.”
Added Souza: “We’re going to some bigger tracks later in the year and there will be a payback.”
Deegan insists she was trying to put herself in the best possible position to succeed, and Souza simply was in the way.
“I’m like sorry that you’re putting around in third gear on the restarts.’ Going into Turn 1, I have to move. I need positions,” Deegan said. “I just got back on the lead lap, I had to make up as much ground as I could. It was between him and the No. 77 (Takuma Koga). I mean, what do you want me to do when you have the two slowest guys in front of you? I picked the one that was faster, gave him a little nudge. Not going into the corner, it was on the straightaway. I’m going to push you so I can clear the No. 77 and get back to the high groove where it’s fast.”
But Souza feels he was wronged by Deegan, whom he clearly is not impressed by.
“Full on disrespect there to anybody,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of money in this car, just as much money as they have in those cars. I support this series, I spent a lot of money, and to have somebody jack me up for one spot going into Turn 1 and taking a chance at losing a car, its just ridiculous.”
“Her mindset, to be as spoiled and rotten as she is, she drives like she’s a spoiled rotten little baby.”
According to Deegan, things got particularly nasty inside her hauler.
“He cussed me out, for sure,” she said. “I was a little nervous there for a second. He started coming in my trailer as I was sitting down. There was a brief second where I thought he was going to do something there.”
Obviously, that’s a visual that nobody should be comfortable with.
Deegan has proven to be a lightning rod during her rapid ascension through the NASCAR ranks. Be it her brash personality, aggressive nature during races or what some believe to be unearned hype, Deegan is one of the sport’s most polarizing figures, despite being years away from NASCAR’s top flight.
However, Deegan also has made it clear that she couldn’t care less what anybody thinks of her.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images