Despite Lack of Practice From NASCAR, Hailie Deegan Dives Into How She’s Preparing for Her Awaited Full-Time Xfinity Debut

Published 12/20/2023, 3:35 PM EST

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It is no secret that NASCAR’s number of female drivers has been on the rise recently and it’s been quite the eventful year for one such budding racer, Hailie Deegan. From driving her dream car, the Ford GT40 earlier this week, to her appearing in a micro race, the off-season has been equally eventful for the California native. However, there’s some major work before next season in the Xfinity Series for Deegan and her new team AM Racing.

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Whilst the 22-year-old found the going tough in the Craftsman Truck Series, she heads into a completely different ball game. However, the rising star is keen to make a lasting impression. She has already been clocking the hours behind the scenes and getting some much-needed simulator time before the big season.

How Hailie Deegan’s manager helped her prepare for her 2024 Xfinity full-time debut

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A few days ago, Hailie Deegan joined the Money Lap Podcast to share her come-up story and plans for her future. Speaking to fellow Xfinity stars Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill, Deegan spoke about how she persuaded her manager to get her more Xfinity track time before making her full-time debut next year. For someone like Deegan, the step-up to Xfinity might be the dream opportunity, but it also comes with its unique challenges.

The Truck Series car she was used to was far heavier and needed a more momentum-preserving style of driving. On the other hand, the Xfinity car is in a different league in itself. Deegan needed to get her hands behind the wheel quickly. She shared, “That was one thing that was big for me when it came to running that one Xfinity race is, I told my manager, ‘We gotta find the money to do at least one Xfinity race before I go Xfinity racing’, and I know that’s really hard for him because it is expensive but he went out there and was able to find me a way to do a race.”

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Her reasoning behind such an expensive outing was that it would provide her ample time to understand exactly the kind of car and environment she was getting herself into. Fortunately for Deegan, her manager answered her wishes fairly quickly, which ended up benefitting her massively. Deegan added, “So I was able to go out there, do that one race and I feel like I have such a better concept of what I’m getting myself into that I know how to prepare better, now that I am in this opportunity where I have a whole off-season to get ready for it.”

WATCH THIS STORY: Hailie Deegan’s NASCAR Journey: A Tale of Triumph and Tribulation

While Deegan may have gotten ample opportunity behind the wheel, thanks to her manager, the dilemma of the off-season window frustrated both the team and Deegan, since AM Racing didn’t have a simulator. But as the No.15 driver revealed in the same podcast, the brand that built her dream car came to her aid.

Ford could play a crucial unorthodox role in AM Racing and Deegan’s campaign together

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Helping Hailie Deegan bag some crucial simulator track time is none other than Ford, who gave Deegan access to their state-of-the-art simulator. Deegan shared, “But on the simulator side of things, Ford has given me access to go to the Ford sim quite a bit and AM Racing, who I’m racing for the next couple of years, has never been to a simulator before so that’s a new resource that they’re going to have that I think is going to be super valuable.”

The special access to such a simulator not only allows AM Racing to better understand the car beneath their feet and tune it to Deegan’s preferences, but it also allows the star driver to get familiarized with the kind of movements the Xfinity car demands. She added, “You got to keep in mind that we don’t get much practice and I know you guys [the hosts] understand that too, so being able to run those changes that you would normally run during practice, and there’s only so many changes that you can make at the track.”

Deegan alluded to the lack of practice time on track being a vital reason why a simulator is so important. It allows her to cross out what doesn’t work on the car and what does work for her. Deegan concluded by showcasing just how confident she is for the 2024 challenge, “And then for me, being new to the Xfinity series is getting comfortable in the car, understanding what changes do what, how they affect it differently and I feel like that just makes me so much more prepared going into these races.”

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It’s safe to say Hailie Deegan is giving it her all to prepare for her debut full-time season with AM Racing. But while Ford has pulled out all the stops to assist the young star in the making, will the 2024 season be hers to claim?

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Written by:

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed

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One take at a time

My journey into the world of motorsports began when I watched the Top Gear Ayrton Senna tribute as a child. I later materialized my passion for motorsport through karting on the side. By the time I completed my undergrad in Journalism, I had extensive karting experience, with a few podium finishes to my name.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Ramesh

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