Preparations for the 2018 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top 51 short track racing prospects in North America.
As we prepare for the draft, we’ll be taking a look at a handful of drivers and providing scouting reports just like you would see ahead of the NFL Draft. These scouting reports will take a look at a driver’s on-track performance, as well as other qualities that may make or break their chances of making it to the top levels of NASCAR.
We continue our round of scouting reports today with a look at the “Dirt Princess,” Hailie Deegan, one of the rising young females that could be a force in racing very soon.
Current Level: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Hometown: Temecula, CA
Highest Pick: 24th (2017)
Anticipated Pick: 22nd - 27th
The Skinny: Hailie Deegan is returning as a prospect for the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com for the second year in a row. The daughter of former X Games gold medalist, Brian Deegan, was selected with the 24th overall pick in 2017, which was her first time chosen in the Short Track Draft.
The self-proclaimed “Dirt Princess” has already proven that she can race just about every vehicle she sits in, even at just 16 years old. Deegan won the Modified Kart national championship with the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series in 2016. From there she’s since run Outlaw Karts, Junior Late Models, Super Late Models and stock cars.
In her NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut at Kern County Raceway Park (CA) earlier this year, Deegan qualified eighth and finished seventh, gaining the praise of 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kevin Harvick.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Holding Steady
Deegan had everyone’s attention the second it was announced that she was transitioning to pavement racing. She didn’t achieve too much on the pavement side in 2017. Her two CARS Tour starts weren’t anything to write home about. But she is a member of NASCAR Next, which has garnered her plenty of attention, and she did have a strong showing in her K&N West debut. If she can have a strong, consistent year in the heavier stock cars out West, everybody will be looking towards Hailie Deegan as the next big thing.
On-Track Accomplishments: B-
As we said, 2017 didn’t see Deegan accomplish anything to write home about. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Her initial foray into pavement racing was not by any means a disaster. Everything was new and she had high expectations because of the spotlight already being placed on her.
And this year, once again everything is new. Deegan is not racing the lighter Late Models but instead is in a heavy stock car. Her two K&N races on the East Coast haven’t been great, but she had mechanical issues in both races while finishing in the top 10 on the West Coast.
This is one area where Deegan doesn’t have to do anything differently or learn anything new. Hailie Deegan has a wonderful personality. She doesn’t come off as wild and rambunctious the way her extreme sports-loving father is, but instead she just always seems happy. While she of course has an intensity about her when it comes to concentrating on the task at hand, it’s rare to see Deegan without a smile on her face.
Sponsor Appeal: A
Deegan is young, she’s attractive, and she’s also a woman. Those three things have sponsors lining up to work with her. Deegan has had backing from Monster Energy, the current NASCAR Cup Series title sponsor, for a few years and now also has sponsorship from NAPA on the K&N West car for Bill McAnally Racing.
She’s also not scared to do appearances. Just recently she was at a fan fest-style event with NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway hanging out with fans in the rain.
Social Media: B
One would think that a teenager in 2018 wouldn’t score anything other than an A in this category, but amazingly that isn’t the case here. The only reason for that is her Twitter game. It’s a little bit on the weak side, and we’ll point to her most recent race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway as exhibit A. If you go to her Twitter (@HailieDeegan), you won’t see any post about where she started (16th), where she finished (22nd, 20 laps down), how the car was, what she thought of her first race at Bristol, or anything of the sort.
That said, her Instagram usage is strong. She’s constantly showing her love of motorsports and life in general in different ways, multiple times a week. Her official Facebook page has more than 44,000 followers, and she’s pretty active on that platform as well.
Great question. The sky is still honestly the limit for Hailie Deegan. She’s only 16 years old and she’s still learning the ins-and-outs of pavement racing, but she’s already caught the eye of everybody in the industry. From praise by former Cup Series champions to profiles on NASCAR RaceHub, she’s the talk of the town. If she can win a race, then she’ll cement herself as a potential superstar in the sport. Anything is possible for the Dirt Princess.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com