On Friday, Hailie Deegan will be competing with the ARCA Menards Series at Pocono Raceway (PA). Before she went to the massive 2.5-mile speedway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, Deegan made her first appearance in a Micro Sprint at a much smaller track, North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway.
Deegan’s first experience in the lightweight 600cc machines was an enjoyable one, as she acclimated herself to the powerful car turning 10-second laps around the 1/6-mile Salisbury bullring.
“They’re a lot of fun,” Deegan told Speed51. “I came out here testing on Sunday night and tested for a long time. The track felt a lot different than it was today, so we’re still getting used to it all, still trying to get comfortable. When the track changes, it’s like getting used to something new.”
Wednesday’s feature race was a chaotic one and Deegan was collected in a couple of early incidents. However, she rebounded for a seventh-place finish, avoiding some of the late-race carnage along the way.
“It was a game of staying alive. I got in a couple of wrecks there in the beginning, but once you stayed alive in the end, we were there.
“For what it was tonight, I’m happy. There were a lot of wrecks tonight, a lot of craziness. I’m excited.”
The opportunity came together with Factor 1 East after several conversations as Deegan and her father, off road champion and X Games Gold Medalist Brian Deegan, worked to find dirt racing opportunities for her racing schedule.
“My dad to get me into dirt racing more. I had run the Outlaw Karts a little bit. Then someone who raced Outlaw Karts said, ‘You need to get in a Micro, it’s better.’ They referred us over here, and they had a car and let us drive for the race.”
It’s part of a busy 2020 season for Deegan, which has seen her race everything from the ARCA Series to an IMSA Ford Mustang GT4.
“I love racing a bunch of different cars. I feel like you learn something from every single car you drive. Whether you do good or don’t do good, you learn, it’s a learning process. I’m trying to build this foundation to get into NASCAR and ultimately get there.”
Throughout the week, Deegan has leaned on Micro Sprint veteran and ARCA Menards Series East competitor Chase Cabre. Tapping into his experience with the Micro Sprints was an invaluable asset in Deegan’s debut.
“Chase was helping me a lot. He definitely knows how to get around this place, especially with the equipment tonight. He did a really good job. It was all new to me, and he helped me learn a lot.”
With Deegan now spending more time in North Carolina, she believes there will be more Micro Sprint starts at Millbridge in the future.
“I think we’re going to come back and race a few more times. It was a lot of fun.”
Christopher Bell scored the win in Wednesday’s Micro Sprint feature, rallying from an early incident to take the victory. Fans who missed the race can watch an on-demand replay of Speed51’s broadcast of the race by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo