By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Just hours removed from her second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory, Hailie Deegan broke the news that she will make her ARCA Menards Series debut with Venturini Motorsports later this season at Toledo Speedway. In total, Deegan will make six starts in ARCA competition.
Deegan is running full-time for Bill McAnally Racing in the No. 19 Monster / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry in the K&N Pro Series West with selected starts in the East division. The 17-year-old made her NASCAR debut last year. In 20 combined starts, Deegan has two victories, six top-five, and 13 top-10 finishes. She also has earned the pole position three times.
Last year, Deegan made history by becoming the first woman to win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West history with a last lap pass at Meridian Speedway. This year, she became the first woman to lead the championship points standings in any of NASCAR’s divisions in the sanctioning bodies’ 72-year history after her win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.
“It’s been crazy just how much work I’ve been putting into it, my family has been putting into it, and how many hours,” Deegan explained. “It’s a time-consuming thing and I think a lot of drivers think racing is a weekend thing, go to the track on Friday and leave on Sunday. It’s an everyday thing for me.
“Before this dirt race (Star Nursey 100) I was in a dirt car for four days straight just trying to get as much practice as possible. I just wanted to prove to every that I’m willing to put in the work and we got it done.”
In addition to her debut at Toledo on May 19, Deegan will also compete at Pocono Raceway, Madison International Speedway, Elko Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway, and the ARCA season finale at Kansas Speedway. She will also team with Venturini for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway August 15.
The move to the ARCA Menards Series presents several challenges for Deegan. The Temecula, CA native will compete in longer events. Deegan will also face live pit stops both under caution and green flag conditions. Pit stops in the both NASCAR K&N Pro Series divisions take place during break periods.
“That’s a big step for me, getting on these bigger tracks like Kansas, Pocono that I haven’t had to do before,” Deegan admitted. “Pit stops, that’s going to be a big thing for me, just learning before I get up to these higher levels. It’s just another stepping stone that Toyota and TRD have given me the opportunity to do before going up to Truck or Xfinity.”
‘The Dirt Princess’ joins a long list of Toyota Racing Development drivers that have made their ARCA debut with Venturini. Several of those drivers, including Christopher Bell, Natalie Decker, Christian Eckes, and Todd Gilliland are still in the Toyota Racing pipeline competing in either the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and ARCA.