Hailie Deegan is thankful for the opportunity to make her NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut in Saturday’s Clean Harbors 200 at Kansas Speedway.
And the timing is helpful. By the time the 19-year-old suits up for her first national NASCAR series race, she will be the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Bounty Rookie of the Year.
“I was happy when they announced the schedule change,” said Deegan, referring to NASCAR’s announcement last month that the Truck Series race had been pushed from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. “So now I can run the ARCA race first on Friday and get those extra laps before racing the truck on Saturday.
“Before I was going to have to run both races back-to-back on Friday with the truck race first, which was not ideal for me.”
Deegan will drive the No. 4 Toter Ford in Friday’s Speediatrics 150 presented by The NASCAR Foundation at Kansas (5 p.m. CT, FS1), the last of 20 races in her first full ARCA Menards Series season racing for DGR-Crosley.
The Temecula, California, native is locked into third place in the championship standings heading into the final race, behind title contenders Bret Holmes and Michael Self by 53 points and ahead of fellow rookie Drew Dollar by 27 points.
Which means Deegan only needs to roll off the starting grid Friday to clinch the rookie title. She then will look to improve upon her ninth-place finish at Kansas when the series visited the 1.5-mile oval earlier this season.
“I think our team has come a long way since we raced at Kansas in July,” said Deegan. “We were very loose late in the race last time, so this time we should be able to go off our notes and get the set-up closer so we can really dial it in during the brief practice we get Friday afternoon.”
Deegan has four top fives and 16 top 10s through 19 ARCA Menards Series races this season. She has led 86 laps throughout the year and has an average finish of 7.4.
The rising star’s Truck Series debut will come at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday with the Clean Harbors 200, which is scheduled to air live on Fox.
— ARCA Racing —