Hailie Deegan was flat-out impressive in her NASCAR Xfinity Series debut driving the No. 07 Pristine Auction Ford Mustang for SS Green Light Racing in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
And at the end of a hard-fought day, the 21-year-old racer was in sole possession of the best all-time finish for a female driver in their NASCAR Xfinity Series debut after a solid 13th-place effort.
Before Saturday’s race, the best all-time finish in a NASCAR Xfinity Series debut by a female driver was a 15th-place finish by Shawna Robinson at Orange County Speedway in 1991.
Additionally, this marks the second-best series debut finish for a female driver in any of the three NASCAR National Series (Cup, Xfinity, Truck), according to TobyChristie.com’s Joseph Srigley.
In her Xfinity debut, @HailieDeegan records an impressive 13th-place result.
The finish is the best Xfinity debut by a female driver, and the second-best debut by a female driver in ANY of NASCAR's National Series.#NASCAR | #SrigleyStats Presented by @gearupgame_on pic.twitter.com/JBSMpl4rKq
— Joseph Srigley (@joe_srigley) October 15, 2022
That honor belongs to Ethel Mobley, who finished 11th in the second-ever NASCAR Cup Series (then NASCAR Strictly Stock Series) race on the beach road course at Daytona in 1949.
Notably, Deegan also has the all-time best finish in a debut for a female in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well, as she finished 16th in her debut in that series at Kansas Speedway in 2020.
While the finish was historic, Deegan was just happy that her team, with help from Stewart-Haas Racing, who helped prepare the car, brought a good vehicle to the track.
“I’m pretty excited right now. The guys gave me an amazing car,” Deegan explained in her post-race interview on the NBC broadcast. “And just can’t thank Pristine Auction, Ford and everybody for putting this together. Because I have always wanted to come out here and just be able to experience what it’s like to run the Xfinity Series. The guys gave me a car as fast as Xfinity internet and we were able to do something with it. So, I was really happy with it.”
While Deegan was impressed in her NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, the California native has struggled to find momentum in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition.
Through 44-career NCWTS starts, Deegan only has six results equal to or better than the one she had in her NXS debut on Saturday. For Deegan, she felt the style of racing with the NASCAR Xfinity Series car allowed her more of a chance to shine in the race.
“The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the fact that you’re able to move around on mile-and-a-halfs,” Deegan explained. “In the truck stuff, you just kind of plant there, hold it down and go. I think in the Xfinity car, and having to work for it a lot more for it, having to drive out of stuff a lot more, and just being on that edge and constantly driving off that edge, it changes a lot of things.”
Deegan says there are just so many different ways to adjust how you’re driving during the course of a NASCAR Xfinity Series race, which gives you a potential advantage to get around the competition. And she is also happy the competition is a little less rough around the edges in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“You’re able to finesse with throttle, brake, deciding what to do. Dump out of it, crack the throttle, there’s just so many things you can do,” Deegan stated with a smile. “Where as the trucks, it’s pretty much one lane, one way and you hope for the best. Everybody races really clean in this series it seems like. There’s a lot of respect and I really like that.”
With a solid result in her NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, will we see Deegan return to the Series? If she had her way, absolutely.
“I would love to be. If anybody is willing to pay the bills, I would be more than happy to run some more Xfinity races,” Deegan quipped.
'@HailieDeegan wanted a top-15 finish today, and GOT IT!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 15, 2022
Whether Hailie Deegan ends up in more NASCAR Xfinity Series races in the near future, or not, her stock definitely was on the rise after a very impressive performance on Saturday, which saw her start inside the top-20 and score a solid top-15 finish.