Hailie Deegan entered the NASCAR Truck Series with high expectations but most have not been met as she struggled to consistently produce results. This doesn’t mean it will slow down Deegan in the future.
Let’s evaluate the 21-year-old’s best landing spots as David Gilliland Racing, now TRICON Garage, moves to Toyota.
SS-Greenlight Racing gives Hailie Deegan a full-time opportunity
Deegan has been running full-time for David Gilliland Racing in the NASCAR Truck Series; however, SS-Greenlight Racing brought her aboard for the Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
It marked Deegan’s first career Xfinity Series event. Since she is a Ford driver, David Gilliland Racing moving to Toyota means she will not return to the organization for the 2023 season.
SS-Greenlight Racing represents an ideal opportunity for Deegan as it represents a jump to the Xfinity Series. The 21-year-old driver will stay with Ford so it either needs to be an organization backed by the manufacturer in the Xfinity and Truck Series.
Deegan has previous experience with the team so it makes this a positive situation. However, the equipment would likely not be at the level needed to compete for race wins and championships.
If not SS-Greenlight Racing, there are other options that could produce better results in equipment that seems more likely to compete.
NASCAR: Front Row Motorsports hires Hailie Deegan for 2023
Front Row Motorsports currently fields entries in the NASCAR Cup and Truck Series with Zane Smith being its Truck Series driver. However, if Ford needs a team for Deegan, it could be a good fit.
The organization could open a second full-time truck or start a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series team next season. This would be ideal as Front Row Motorsports is the only Truck Series team with few Xfinity Series teams being backed by Ford.
Stewart-Haas Racing, RSS Racing, and SS-Greenlight Racing are the teams that run under the Ford banner in the Xfinity Series. While RSS Racing would make sense as a landing spot, Front Row Motorsports would allow flexibility for Xfinity or Truck Series racing.
This would likely be harder to perform than RSS Racing since the organization has open rides next to Ryan Sieg. The No. 28 and No. 38 cars could be open, not including the possibility of Kyle Sieg running full-time.
If starting a new Xfinity Series program or a second full-time Truck Series entry is too much for Front Row Motorsports and RSS Racing is not an option, there is one last possibility that would be the best for Deegan’s career.
Stewart-Haas Racing opens a second entry for Hailie Deegan
Stewart-Haas Racing currently fields Riley Herbst in the No. 98 car for the NASCAR Xfinity Series program and while it seems very likely to continue next season, it doesn’t mean a second entry can’t be opened.
If Deegan can bring sponsorship or the organization can back a second car, this would be the best possible scenario. This puts the 21-year-old driver in race-winning equipment that would further progress her development in NASCAR.
At the end of the day, Ford needs to find the best fit for Deegan to progress in her career. A return to the NASCAR Truck Series should not be out of the question due to those previous struggles.
Ford needs to invest in its young drivers due to the lack of rides in the lower ranks of NASCAR. Smith represents its best prospect and losing Taylor Gray to Toyota really hurt the pipeline.
Due to these factors, Ford needs to be correct in what they do for each driver, including Deegan as her future in the sport, still has some questions.