Xfinity Series team AM Racing announced Thursday that Truck Series competitor Hailie Deegan will be moving up to drive for the team next season.
Deegan has driven the No. 13 Ford F150 for Thorsport this year and has so far earned just two top-fives, failing to make the Playoffs unlike all her teammates. She also competed in the SRX Series full-time over the summer, where she enjoyed more success, including nearly winning on the dirt at Eldora over Tony Stewart.
In her Xfinity Series debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last season, Deegan finished a respectable thirteenth as well, suggesting that some of her lackluster performances may be limited to the Truck Series.
Now, moving to the No. 15 AM Racing car next season, Deegan is ready to learn and keep those stronger results coming.
“I obviously had the one Xfinity race at Vegas and it went pretty well, but I think overall just learning the dynamics of the car and learning the mechanic side of it, and really just getting used to it,” she explained of the process.
“There are a lot of new tracks that I haven’t been to either in a while or going to be going there for the first time, so I think it’s definitely going to be a learning curve,” Deegan added, “so I think we’re going to accomplish a lot of great things together and just take it one step at a time.”
AM Racing, run by president Wade Moore, already fields the No. 25 car in the Xfinity Series driven by Brett Moffitt. In their first year of Xfinity Series competition, the team, allied with Stewart-Haas Racing, managed to score eight top tens and a top five.
So Deegan should step into a competitive car with a teammate who has experience – since AM Racing intends to field both cars next season.
“I think for Hailie, we didn’t have a close personal relationship prior to COTA of this year, so it’s been a learning experience understanding who she is as a person, which I think is kind of what fast-tracked this deal for us to get it done because when you meet Hailie and you spend time with her, you learn that she’s a very driven person,” Moore explained of his decision to offer Deegan a ride.
“She’s a very passionate person,” he added. “Quite frankly, at AM while we are a very young program, she’s also young as well in her career where it provides an opportunity for us to grow together. I think she’s gonna be a cornerstone of the success of AM when we look back in a couple of years and where we go, so I think being able to do this together and have something to prove as a group is what’s most exciting about it.”
Deegan explained that the initial meetup between her and Moore came at Circuit of The Americas earlier this season when he floated the possibility of a driver with her boyfriend. That was the start of conversations that progressed, successfully, throughout the season.
“From the start of this deal I thought it was too good to be true,” Deegan admitted. “I didn’t know if it was actually gonna happen because opportunities like these are kind of once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-career opportunities when it comes to NASCAR racing. Just to see everyone’s support at AM and everyone on the team side and Ford’s side, it’s been unreal.”
“I know all of the assets that Ford is gonna be bringing to the team, plus the team being invested in me it’s gonna be a great opportunity and I see a lot to come out of it.”
For both AM Racing and Deegan, the goal is long-term growth. The team intends to expand its Xfinity Series efforts as it moves up the next rung of the NASCAR ladder.
“It’s attached directly to a new driver,” Moore said about his team’s direction, “but with that said, it’s so much more than just about the driver because this is a commitment to the folks back at the shop in Statesville. It’s a commitment to the families of those folks and our existing partners and our new partners, and it’s a commitment to the sport. With that said, it’s also a commitment to the growing relationships with these two gentlemen and who they represent in two historic names in Ford and Roush Yates Engines.”
“Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done. I like the trajectory of our team, but we’re open to the challenges. We’re very excited,” he concluded.
Deegan is also looking to move up and establish herself as a contender.
“We’re definitely going to be here for a few years. I think when it comes to the progression of everything and our goals, I’d say we’re very aligned on that – me and the team – and accomplishing what we want to. I think my goal is to obviously make the playoffs in my first year, so everyone is on board with that and we’re going to try to get really good finishes as we go,” Deegan explained.
In all respects, the move is something of a surprise: a small team taking on a driver who has yet to truly shine in NASCAR’s lower divisions as both hope to grow. However, both have shown flashes of potential and will add some color to the Xfinity Series lineup next season.
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