Home/NASCAR

With AM Racing making big swaps ahead of Chicago, things already looked bleak for Hailie Deegan. While Deegan has what it takes, NASCAR is about more than just knowing a few good moves, and Brad Keselowski sees Joey Logano as a better fit for this matter. Keselowski analyzed why the team took this step; it’s actually data. But that doesn’t take away the disappointment of not seeing a brilliant and passionate driver like Hailie Deegan take on the open roads of Chicago for some!

In a conversation with the media, per Frontstretch, Brad Keselowski explored the simple fact behind why Logano was a better fit for the Chicago race—he’s the reserve driver for Ford Camp on road course events. It was a little anti-climatic, but Keselowski noted that it was essential that Logano take a drive on the tracks with the cars to correlate the simulator data with real-world performance! But was that really the case?

Here’s what else Keselowski had to say about his Chicago circuit outing and testing the simulators. “It’s important for him to race the car from time to time to be able to correlate what matters and what doesn’t matter. He’s kind of the factor simulation driver as well,” Brad explained to the press“And just having him here yesterday, walking the track and being able to say, ‘The simulator’s way off in this corner. Throw away all the stuff we studied for that, but it’s dead on in this corner. You can trust that data here.’ Those are really valuable things to us.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

To break down what Keselowski is referring to, the Ford team uses a computer program that mimics real-world driving into data that drivers and the team can use to make judgments while on the track. However, the data cannot always be trusted.

Poll of the day

Do you think Ford made the right decision by rejecting Hailie Deegan for the reserve driver role?

Yes, they know best

No, she deserved a chance

Undecided

In her debut season with AM Racing, Hailie Deegan did not deliver the most impressive of records. With no wins or top finishes to her name, things looked pretty bleak for her, as she sat 28th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings prior to Chicago. So it was almost natural that AM Racing had to take a call and sub in a two-championship-winning driver to take on Chicago instead.

With these on-track experiments, it looks like Joey Logano has successfully gauged the areas where the simulator is accurate or off, which, per Keselowski, is very valuable information for the team. “He affords us a great opportunity to effectively re-baseline where we stand as an organization with really proven talent. He understands what it takes,” he added. It allows the team engineers to understand which parts of the simulator data they can trust and rely on when preparing for any races.

USA Today via Reuters

Other than that, it also gives them inputs on which parts of the simulator data they need to disregard or make an adjustment to because the simulator isn’t capturing that part of the real-world driving experience accurately. But as Logano finished P8 in the No. 15 car, did it cost Hailie her job?

With him being a reserve driver and taking the time to assess the strong and weak points of the road for the drivers, it’s no wonder they chose to forsake Deegan despite her qualifications and appeal to race. But now AM Racing and Xfinity’s only female driver have parted ways.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The 22-year-old’s Xfinity star’s future

The partnership between Hailie Deegan and AM Racing has come to an unexpected end. On July 8, the Xfinity driver announced her immediate departure from the team, citing misaligned goals. In a surprising twist, AM Racing will now employ a rotating lineup of drivers for the No. 15 Ford Mustang for the remainder of the season. Not to mention Hailie’s crew chief, Joe Williams – who served in that role for the organization’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program since its inception – was also asked to part ways in May.

Enter Josh Berry, ready to seize the spotlight. Currently affiliated with Stewart-Haas Racing, Berry is set to take the wheel of the No. 15 in upcoming races. Despite a winless season last year, Berry’s extensive experience in the Xfinity Series makes him a compelling choice to step in for Deegan. It’s an exciting shake-up for fans, and all eyes will be on Berry as he adapts to his new role and aims to make his mark.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

There are always several reasons within a race team as to why things do or do not work, but sadly our goals no longer align. With that being said, myself and AM Racing will be parting ways… The only thing I am focused on is getting back to being competitive,” Hailie Deegan wrote in her announcement.

With crew chief Joe Williams and Hailie Deegan’s departure from AM Racing, fans will eagerly watch to see if Josh Berry can capitalize on this opportunity and if Deegan can find a new path to competitive success.