Hailie Deegan is getting a new crew chief for the rest of the 2022 season. These things happen when a race team is searching for any semblance of momentum.
NASCAR’s marketing team, you figure, would love for Deegan to hop out of her truck and eventually make her way to the big-league Cup Series.
Current holder of the Truck Series’ Most Popular Driver award, Deegan has drawn interest throughout her still-young stock-car racing career. But deep into her second season with David Gilliland Racing, she’s yet to find the fast lane and stay there.
Looking for answers, Gilliland has swapped two crew chiefs from his stable of three full-time truck squads. Beginning Saturday night at Richmond, veteran Jerry Baxter will sit atop Deegan’s pit box with the No. 1 Ford team, while Mike Hillman Jr. will move over to the No. 15 team and driver Tanner Gray.
Through 17 races this season, Deegan has just one top-10 finish and is 21st in points, due in large part to six finishes of 29th or worse — four of those due to crashes, one for a tire issue and another for brake problems.
Teammate Gray is 14th in points with five top-10s and just two crash-fueled DNFs.
Deegan also had just one top-10 finish in her 2021 rookie season in the Truck Series, and was 17th in points.
It’s worth noting that she’s not racing for an upper-tier, big-money operation. The Gilliland team, in nearly five seasons, has four Truck Series victories in a combined 235 starts with a wide variety of drivers.
The team does have two wins this season, however — Ryan Preece won at Nashville and Todd Gilliland at Knoxville.
Deegan, now 21, entered the Truck Series at age 19 coming off a solid 2020 season in the ARCA Series, her first year in full-bodied “NASCAR-style” stock cars. She ran all 20 races and didn’t win but delivered 17 top-10 finishes — she was third in the season-long points standings.
The previous year, in NASCAR’s K&N West “minor-league” series, she had two wins and 11 top-10s in 14 starts, finishing third in points.
The native Californian is the daughter of motocross superstar and off-road racer Brian Deegan. Hailie grew up racing off-road vehicles before transitioning to asphalt racing in 2016.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Hailie Deegan gets new crew chief; 6 NASCAR Truck races left in 2022