Ford Performance announced Saturday that Hailie Deegan will move full time to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2021, teaming with DGR-Crosley Racing for a Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign.
Deegan, 19, just completed her first full season of ARCA Menards Series competition for DGR-Crosley. She also made her truck debut in Saturday’s Clean Harbors 200 (4 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Kansas Speedway, driving the No. 17 Ford for DGR-Crosley co-owners David Gilliland and Bo LeMastus.
Deegan finished 16th in Saturday’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, accomplishing the best finish by a female driver in her series debut. She steered the No. 17 Ford for DGR-Crosley, her full-time ARCA Menards Series team. The top-20 showing came without any practice for the up-and-coming driver, as NASCAR continues to limit at-track time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“My first time starting that truck was coming off pit road and taking the green flag,” Deegan said. “It was definitely difficult. My expectations of how the truck was going to handle based on what my crew told me was not how it handled the first stage. We were able to tune it up to how I liked it and get better every single time we pitted.
“I think, at the end of the day, it was crazy. I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to do more of it.”
“I am excited for this next step in my career with Ford Performance,” Deegan said. “I have raced trucks in the off-road world but to now have the opportunity to race trucks next season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a dream come true. I have some great partners already behind me for next season. We have a few primaries still available and I hope that we can fill these up in the coming weeks. I can’t wait for Daytona 2021 to get here.”
After beginning her NASCAR career with Toyota Racing, Deegan was signed to Ford’s driver development program last December. She had scored three wins in the ARCA Menards Series West the last two seasons before moving to the main ARCA tour this year.
Ford officials indicated the automaker had “a broad scope of racing activities planned” for Deegan before the COVID-19 outbreak scattered the racing schedule for multiple series. Even with a somewhat curtailed schedule, Mark Rushbrook — the global director for Ford Performance Motorsports — expressed he was pleased with her growth as a driver.
“We are very happy with Hailie’s progress as demonstrated in her first year as a part of our Ford Performance driver development program,” Rushbrook said. “Continuing with the consistency from DGR-Crosley, Hailie is ready to make the step to the NASCAR Truck Series, providing some intense competition and great racing.”