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In her second full-time NASCAR Truck Series season, Hailie Deegan has struggled to find success consistently. She’s scored just three top-10 finishes in two seasons.

She’s admitted that other drivers have raced her differently and added to her challenges as a young driver. This past weekend at Talladega, the 21-year-old created problems of her own during a pit stop, and the messy results were a runaway wheel and a pit crew member getting ejected by NASCAR. 

Hailie Deegan struggled in two Truck Series seasons

Hailie Deegan waits on grid
Hailie Deegan waits on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series TSport 200 at the Indianapolis Raceway Park on July 29, 2022. | Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

In 2022, Deegan hoped to improve on her rookie performance of a year ago when she scored a single top 10. By that measure alone, the David Gilliland Racing driver has improved, scoring her second top 10 and career-best finish this past weekend at Talladega, finishing sixth. 

But top results have been hard to come by this season. Deegan’s only other top 10 came at Mid-Ohio, where she finished 10th. Most of her results this year have been 15th or higher.

Unfortunately, among those have been six DNFs, including a three-race stretch at the beginning of the season when she did not finish in consecutive races at Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Circuit of the Americas. Her DNF total this season is double what it was in 2021.   

Deegan hits tire carrier and wheel goes bouncing across pit road

Interestingly, in what would turn out to be Deegan’s best race of her young career, she also made one of her most glaring blunders. It happened in the final stage of Saturday’s race with 31 laps to go when the No. 1 driver joined numerous other trucks veering off the track toward pit road for green flag pit stops.

Working out of the first pit stall, Deegan needed to enter pit road as far to the left as possible. Unfortunately, she didn’t get there until it was too late. The end result was that the truck came in too hot, missed the pit box, and hit the tire carrier, which knocked the wheel out of his hands and sent it bouncing across pit road. Multiple drivers dodged the wheel before it came to rest in the tri-oval grass.   

That was problematic enough. It got exponentially worse moments later when the tire carrier inexplicably ran after the wheel, grabbed it, and returned with it to the pit stall. Several minutes later, the broadcast revealed NASCAR had revoked his credentials and showed him being escorted from the property. 

What does the future hold?


Todd Bodine Calls Out Hailie Deegan for Getting Payback at Pocono and Spoiling His 800th and Final NASCAR Start

It’s understandable how Deegan could have left Talladega with mixed emotions. Her late pit road mistake ultimately got her tire carrier ejected. That wasn’t a good feeling.

However, minutes later, she crossed the finish line sixth for her best-ever finish in the Truck Series. That result could prove to be a confidence and momentum builder heading into the final two races of the season. 

At the start of the season, there was talk about Deegan potentially racing in the Xfinity Series in 2023. Her overall performance this year wouldn’t seem to indicate that she’s ready to take the step up. But, at a minimum, her result at Talladega will give the decision-makers something to think about.

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