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Hailie Deegan’s Career Takes Another Steep Fall After Being Double Crossed by Closest Confidant

Published 09/24/2023, 11:58 AM EDT

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Hailie Deegan was once considered by many as the successor to Danica Patrick in terms of popularity and overall performance. However, in the last two years, her performance has been far from satisfactory. As a rookie, in 2021, she finished 17 in the Craftsman Truck Series. In 2022, she had an even poorer performance and slid to no.21 in the truck standings. Overall, she could just get one top-10 finish in 2021 and two top-10 finishes in 2022. She has yet to achieve any wins or top-5 finishes.

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After spending two seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series with David Gilliland Racing, she made a move to ThorSport Racing this year to improve her chances of winning the championship. But here, too, results haven’t been going in her favor. With just one top-10 finish so far, she faces the risk of dropping down the pecking order of her team. Now, in more potential bad news for Hailie, ThorSport racing, recently shifted Hailie’s title-winning crew chief, Rich Lushes, to captain her teammate Ben Rhodes’s crew. Following this, further drama has unfolded with the revelations of the new crew chief.

Hailie Deegan’s title-winning crew chief’s move to a different camp and subsequent disloyalty


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When Hailie moved to the team at the onset of the season, Rich Lushes moved from Ben Rhodes’s No. 99 truck to captain Hailie’s No. 13 Ford F-150. Expectations were that it would lift up her chances of winning races and aid her in reaching her true potential. But those hopes haven’t been fulfilled even in minor ways. As a result, prior to the race at Bristol Motor Speedway on 14th September, ThorSport made the call to reunite Rich Lushes with Ben Rhodes, who was still in contention for the title. It was decided that Brian Ross, who’d previously served as the lead engineer for ThorSport, would captain Hailie’s crew.

Before the race could begin, Rich Lushes had spoken to his spotter about a strategy that would essentially put Ben Rhodes ahead of Hailie and hamper her chances. As the green flag dropped, his plan was set into motion perfectly, and Hailie’s weakness was exploited.


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As reported by, in the chief’s own words, “So I explained to him (spotter) that obviously, we need to get to the bottom as soon as possible. We should be able to do that on the initial start here because more than likely she won’t get a good start.”


With the race ending for Hailie in P17, Ben Rhodes was able to salvage a commendable P7 that kept his title hopes alive. But with Hailie’s career already hanging in the doubt after her dismal performance all season, the results at Bristol and Rich’s strategy at the cost of her have all but ended her stint at ThorSport.

Watch This Story: Hailie Deegan Faces Another Setback in Her Quest to Reach the Xfinity Series


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Where does the 22-year-old’s career go after the end of the 2023 season?

There was a time when the common perception was that Hailie would impress in the truck series. She would move on to the Xfinity and Cup Series to compete at the highest level the sport has to offer. However, the repetitive trait she showed of not following instructions from Rich to be more aggressive on the track has effectively led to her downfall. As admitted by the driver herself, she saw this turn of events occurring beforehand. Speaking to former NASCAR racer Kenny Wallace on his YouTube channel last month, she’d answered a question about her confidence and opened herself up.

She said, “It’s funny actually about two to three weeks ago like I always felt like I was going at downward and I’ll be honest about it like I felt like I was going in a downward spiral.” Worrying about how she might have trouble finding sponsors to move up to the next levels, she said, “With that, I just felt like I was spiraling and my confidence was completely gone start questioning myself of like man can I really do this like do I have it in me to go to that next level.” While she’d been thankful that her team was backing her at the time, little could she have known how things were going to turn out.


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With just three more races to go in the Truck series to end the season, Hailie has very little time to prove herself and gain the trust of sponsors. Her future hangs on the uncertainty of whether she will be able to pull off impressive performances to warrant a move to a different outfit or extend her contract with ThorSport Racing. Regardless of the turn of events, 2024 is going to be a steep climb for the racer.

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Written by:

Gowtham Ramalingam


One take at a time

Gowtham Ramalingam is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. His love for motorsports stems from his fascination with Formula 1. Possessing an obsession for anything with an engine, the roads eventually led him to the raw grounds of NASCAR and he has been an avid fan of the sport ever since.
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Edited by:

Anuj Jacob