By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Hailie Deegan stayed out of trouble and scored her first career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
At the start of the final Stage of the Toyota 200, Deegan was running just outside the top-15. John Hunter Nemechek’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra slowed while running inside the top-10. That triggered a wreck that swept up nine other trucks. Deegan’s No. 1 Monster F-150 somehow avoided the melee despite being in the middle of the pack when the wreck happened.
After that, Deegan ran just inside the top-10, battling with her David Gilliland Racing teammates Tanner Gray and Taylor Gray. She worked her way by the Gray brothers to move into ninth with under 10 laps to go. However, the caution waved as Tanner Gray spun into the outside wall with five laps to go.
In overtime, Deegan jockeyed with Jack Wood, Carson Hocevar, and Taylor Gray. Contact on the final lap between Gray and Ryan Truex opened the door for the Temecula, Calif. native to sneak by. When the checkered flag waved, Deegan crossed the line in seventh.
“We have to finish off the season strong,” Deegan explained post-race to NASCAR on FOX. “We’ve had a rough year, had our ups and downs, had good moments and not so good moments. To come out here and have a good, solid finish and have something good to build off of for the final races is going to be huge for me.”
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) August 21, 2021
Due to NASCAR’s metric qualifying formula, Deegan started the race in 19th. She didn’t finish either of the first two Stages inside the top-10 but remained in touch with trucks running there.
Deegan’s top-10 finish is not just her first, but the first for a woman in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that did not come at Daytona International Speedway. She also became the fourth woman in the history of the Truck Series to score a top-10 finish.
The 19-year-old was also the best finishing Ford driver at Gateway. It marked her 17th consecutive race in which she was running at the finish. Deegan is the only driver in Truck Series history to be running at the finish in their first 17 races.
Despite the top-10 finish, Deegan remains 17th in the points standings. She is not in contention for the playoffs or for Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
The next race in which Deegan can attempt to play playoff spoiler is the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Darlington Raceway on September 5. In the Spring Darlington race, she finished 20th after a late-race incident.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo