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Hailie Deegan’s career is at a crossroads. Where does she go from here?


Hailie Deegan’s career is at a crossroads. Where does she go from here?

Hailie Deegan is looking for her next NASCAR ride, likely wondering what is the best route for her — and teams wondering if she has a future in the sport.

Deegan was the only female driver with a full-time ride in NASCAR’s three national series until her release this week from AM Racing. She has a significant social media following with 3.2 million followers on TikTok, 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 583,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel.

If she can succeed in racing, she would be a superstar. That is why so many were so optimistic after her first few seasons of full-time stock-car racing. She won three ARCA West Series races from 2018-2019.

Toyota let her leave for Ford’s driver development program, and she finished third in the 2020 ARCA national series standings driving for team owner David Gilliland. She ran in a Gilliland truck for 2021-22 and then for ThorSport in 2023.

Those were solid teams and she didn’t thrive. She didn’t improve much in any of the three seasons but a move to the Xfinity Series seemed understandable — she had probably learned what she could in trucks so why not see if the Xfinity cars fit her style better?

Making the move to AM Racing certainly could be debated. They were decent in their first Xfinity season with Brett Moffitt but a relatively new team (they still compete in ARCA and had raced in trucks) in the series. They could grow together.

Instead, they struggled together and decided to part ways this week.

So where does she go from here?

Some would say Deegan is a lost cause. With no or very little progress over three-plus national series seasons, is she really going to get any better? Will it really ever click as far as getting the feel she needs to go fast? She ranked worst in points among those who had started every race in the Xfinity Series over the first 17 events.

And yet compared to many drivers in the Xfinity Series, she has raced stock cars for fewer seasons, with about seven years experience as she approaches her 23rd birthday. She’s still young and a couple of years of her NASCAR experience came during the COVID-19 seasons with no practice on many weekends. So to say she can’t still learn or improve seems a little myopic.

There will be those who think she concentrates too much on having a social media presence, but that also is what has kept her in a ride to this point as it helps with gathering sponsorship.
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Deegan is the daughter of extreme motorsports start Brian Deegan. He is known to take risks on a motorcycle.

It might take someone with that same affinity for risk — risk from a financial standpoint — to give Deegan a solid chance of being successful.

Deegan needs to go to a place where she knows she can race for a couple of years. She needs to go somewhere with a strong structure in place to set reasonable goals for her to improve. She needs to go somewhere with teammates that can help her (although she did have that with her truck teams and it didn’t exactly lead to any great improvement). She might even need a program where she runs select races in a variety of series from late models to Xfinity to help improve her weaknesses.

“I’d hate to see her just go elsewhere,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on his Dale Jr. Download podcast. “I’d hate to see her give up on stock-car racing all together.”

He is right. Deegan was celebrated five years ago as a potential superstar who could help transform the sport.

People saw something in her that made them believe. They haven’t seen all that much in the last few years to make them continue to believe. Finding a believer — from sponsor, from owner, from crew chief — will be key to whether she can make a career out of stock-car racing.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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