In a relatively short amount of time, Hailie Deegan has already made a major impact in stock car racing. The three-time ARCA Menards Series West winner was named the second overall pick in the 2020 Short Track Draft Thursday, continuing her ascent up the racing ladder.
Deegan was named the number-two pick based on the results of Speed51’s polling of more than 50 industry experts. Last year, Deegan was the fourth overall pick in the Short Track Draft. Further success in the ARCA West series, along with a runner-up finish this February in the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona, improved her stock for this year’s draft.
“It’s an honor to even be considered in the top 10,” Deegan said on Speed51’s Short Track Draft Selection Show. “Starting my stock car career, it hasn’t been a very long one, so just to be with all these great drivers is a really cool experience.”
Deegan was very excited entering the 2020 season, where she joined the Ford Performance driver development program and is competing in the ARCA Menards Series full-time with DGR-Crosley. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has halted those exciting plans.
“It’s been hard right now. I was so hyped at the beginning of the year, to have all the great people behind me, great new sponsors coming along.”
One of those new sponsors is Barstool Sports, the wildly popular sports media outlet which has embraced NASCAR in the past year. That partnership started with a friendly conversation on social media with Barstool founder David Portnoy.
“He actually bought one of my merch shirts, Dave did, and I saw it on his Instagram story. I saw it and replied, ‘Sick shirt!’ We just started talking or whatever and he asked if he could get some more shirts, so I sent him a lot of the new merch.
"Then, all of a sudden, I saw that he sponsored Matt [DiBenedetto] in the Cup Series, so I was like, ‘Hey, if you’re looking to put together a race program, make sure to keep me on that list.’ It started like that, and he wanted to be involved on that side.
"It’s turned out to be a great deal, and they’re a great group of people to be around. They’re so funny, and they have so much life to them. It brings a good social media side to it, and into NASCAR at a younger generation.”
Deegan is now one of the most highly publicized rising stars in the sport, a driver who has fully embraced social media and drawn a passionate following. She also has racing success in her blood, as the daughter of X-Games gold medalist and off-roar racing champion Brian Deegan.
“He’s taught me everything I know about racing,” Deegan said about her father. “He made my foundation in the racing world when it came to off-road racing. He’s still super-involved in my stock car racing. He’s at the corner of the tracks, videoing the corners, videoing other guys to see what they’re doing, texting me videos while I’m getting out of the car.
“We just have such a tight relationship and we’re always traveling together. He didn’t stock car race a ton, so he’s always like ‘Do this! Do that!’ and I have to tell him it’s not that easy.”
Did you miss the 2020 Short Track Draft Selection Show? You can watch the full show, including Deegan’s post-selection interview, now on Speed51 by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo