Hailie Deegan
Photo: IMSA/LAT

Deegan Gains Experience

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –  Deegan may not have won the race in her IMSA debut, but the 18-year old Ford factory driver said she’ll leave Daytona International Speedway’s road course feeling optimistic about her return to the track for the ARCA Menards Series season-opener Feb. 8 on the traditional Daytona 2.5-mile high-banked oval.

Deegan’s No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang suffered a pair of mechanical issues, at one point requiring about half an hour of work in the garage. But after driving more than two hours, Deegan finally brought the car into the garage for work and a driver change, leaving Ford teammate Chase Briscoe to finish the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge.

“I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said after climbing out of the car. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days. I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before and that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

Deegan ran as high as 12th in the 51-car field before the lengthy pit stop. A full-course yellow came out for an accident in the bus stop with about 13 minutes remaining in the race, freezing the field. Deegan’s teammate Chase Briscoe rallied to get the car back up to 29th in the final class standings. His fellow NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Austin Cindric finished right behind them co-driving the team’s other Ford Mustang.

The adventurous day for all ultimately could be chalked up as a learning experience for the young NASCAR talents.

“I’m gaining experience,” Deegan said of day. “And that’s what I’m here to do.”