Hailie Deegan is one of the biggest rising stars in NASCAR, and she hasn’t even made it to one of the national series yet.
The teenage racer is just days away from her 18th birthday and drives the No. 19 Toyota in NASCAR’s developmental K&N Pro Series West. She made history last season when she became the first female driver to win a K&N Pro Series race, and she has two checkered flags this season through the first seven of 14 total races.
For The Win spoke with Deegan – who was promoting her partnership with Under Armour – about growing as a driver, her social media personality and her future. Saturday’s ARCA Series race, the Menards 250 at Elko Speedway in Minnesota, was her fourth of six events in that series she plans to run this season. She finished eighth.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
When I drive my ARCA car, I go back to K&N and I’m so much more aggressive. I feel like I get up to speed a lot quicker, and it just makes K&N easier. It’s still not easy, but it makes it easier.
It’s been crazy. I feel like in NASCAR, there’s not many personalities that take up social media. Most of the time, it’s just the media person doing it for them, and you don’t get that connection with the fans when you do that. I run all my social. I post everything, all the videos and stuff.
So it comes down to how much you want to connect with the fans. I try to keep it really real on my social media, whether it’s me training or working out, whether it’s me practicing or failing at something.
There’s always those hater people. Always. Twitter is, by far, the worst. I just think older people are on Twitter, and you always get that Joe that has his American flag background that is a little more ruthless on there than other people.
Instagram is kind of where my main focus is, but now that I’m in the NASCAR world, I have to focus on Twitter a little bit more.
In the end, I don’t let it get to me. âŠ They don’t understand the full story or the full picture, and that’s why I try to be honest on social media and give people the full stories. But you can never make everyone happy, and no matter what situation you’re in, not everyone’s going to be happy and OK with it.
So there’s always going to be that person that doesn’t want a girl driver, that thinks you’re too young to be racing, that doesn’t think you should post [something on social]. It just comes down to what you want to do and what you think you should do.
People think that’s crazy, and that’s something that doesn’t happen often. But that’s stuff I share on my social media because that’s an everyday thing for me. That stuff happens all the time. A lot of drivers don’t put that stuff on social media because they’re scared they might get criticized or whatever, and there will be people who say I can’t drive. I just don’t let it get to me and do my own thing.
100 percent. Stock car racing is really expensive – really, really expensive. I would love it, but I don’t have an unlimited budget to be in a stock car every single day that I want to practice. So I go out in a go-kart, I go out in a RZR, in my truck, whatever I can get in to practice.
It makes me a better driver being able to drive different cars, not necessarily just a stock car. It has it’s pros and cons, but I’m doing what I can with the equipment that I have.
I hope so. I think it comes down to what I do this year. I really want to win the championship on the West Coast, which is going to be really hard. âŠ
If I’m going to do a couple truck races, I want it to be later in the year. I don’t want to go to Daytona first thing in the year or something like that. That’d just be crazy. I definitely want to go to tracks that aren’t so aero sensitive, just because luck is such a big factor at those tracks, and I don’t want to get wrecked out for the first couple races. I actually want to race hard. It’s just choosing when the right time is and when I think I’m ready.