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Debate

Is AM Racing to blame for Hailie Deegan's struggles, or is it just part of the learning curve?

In NASCAR, opportunities don’t come easy, and getting another shot is even harder. And as for Hailie Deegan, her 2024 Xfinity dreams, her first part-time stint in the series, abruptly ended on July 8. Both AM Racing and Deegan gave out their statements, confirming that they will be parting ways effective immediately. 

But it was not always like this. As the only female driver, she had plenty of authority and fans cheered for her. But everything runs out of time. As we saw, it didn’t wait by Hailie Deegan’s side too. She underperformed and now has to walk away from racing at Xfinity. But is she the only one to blame?

Freddie Kraft backs up Hailie Deegan after her exit from Xfinity

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The news of Hailie Deegan parting ways with the team is not surprising. Because to say she has been underperforming would be—an understatement! While she did ace at the Truck Series, her performance in the Xfinity races was lackluster. Despite a promising debut in 2022, where she recorded the best debut finish (13th) by a female driver in Xfinity, her results have been underwhelming this season. She has been consistently placed outside the top 10s and is now 28th in the driver standings. Moreover, we saw how the team decided to ask Joey Logano to get behind the car for the Chicago race. And finally, as was expected, we saw them drop the news! 

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Who do you think is most at fault for the NASCAR rush incident?

Hailie Deegan

AM Racing

Bubba Wallace's spotter

NASCAR officials

 

However, what caused the sudden drop in performance? Was it a young, inexperienced driver who was fast-tracked through the NASCAR ranks or a team with an ineffective strategy for nurturing a rookie? For Bubba Wallace’s spotter, Freddie Kraft, whatever the case, they both point at one thing: Deegan is not to blame.

According to him, having a benchmark was crucial, someone experienced on the team to provide guidance and set standards. And for him, Brett Moffitt was perfect. Moffitt was the one in the no.15 car before and he drove it to one top-five and nine top 10s and ended his year 15th. Freddie Kraft on ‘Door Bumper Clear’ said, You can’t build a program around an inexperienced driver. You don’t know if your cars have speed if your driver doesn’t have any experience at the track you’re going to. So if obviously money is a big factor in this, but if there was a way to have Brett and Hailie there, I think it would have only benefited Hailie. But unfortunately, it wasn’t the case.”

He also subtly stated his doubts about the team’s possible trial-and-error method, which doesn’t seem to be working. He said, “And now they’re going to have to go and take a route of putting drivers in here to try to evaluate where their programs really at. And there’s good people over there, like I said. And hopefully they get it sorted out”. Concluding his take on the matter, Kraft was just hoping for Deegan’s bright future, while also clearing her of any blame. “Hailie lands on her feet somewhere. I’m sure she will. She’s a talented race car driver. This is not on Hailie either“.

Moreover, the team also saw a crew chief change, which also seemed to send the team into a downward spiral. And the mechanical failures have been more frequent too. Also, add to the fact that a two-time champion Joey Logano could steer their car only to an 8th finish at Chicago, which paints a picture that maybe it was indeed not just Deegan’s fault. As for her, she posted a rather cryptic message on her socials!

Hailie Deegan’s cryptic message after parting ways with AM Racing

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In NASCAR, certain team and driver pairings just don’t click. Deegan and AM Racing can now be counted among those partnerships that never quite took off. She never really saw the end of the tunnel or got a chance to celebrate even the smallest ray of hope with AM Racing. And it’s like not she hasn’t proved her mettle in the past, she has. She did well in the world of asphalt racing with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. She then joined ARCA in 2019 and did venture to the Truck Series in 2020, and she had a good run. 

via Getty

But things didn’t work out with AM Racing, and it happens. Maybe she just needs to take a step back and use the time to reevaluate and rethink what she wants her career to look like moving forward. As for the announcement, she, like AM Racing, shared her parting from the team on X. Hailie Deegan said, “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.”

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But what she posted next was rather cryptic, “I’m thankful for the following that I have and everyone who supports me, It’s truly only me that knows the whole story and what I need to succeed.”

Her words suggested that there might be more to the situation than just her performance, hinting at other factors that influenced the decision to part ways with AM Racing!