LAS VEGAS – Even with all her preparation, Hailie Deegan admitted to some nerves before climbing into the No. 07 Ford for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt on Friday to mark her Xfinity Series debut.
Deegan, who spent more than a dozen hours in a simulator as part of his preparation, qualified 20th for Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock)
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“I did everything I could, but there was still a part of me that was nervous because things can always go wrong,” Deegan told NBC Sports. “You could run over some debris and the next thing you know you have a flat and you’re on the fence and you have to back up.
“There’s a lot of things that can still go wrong even if you’re fully prepared. I think we just take it as it goes. We got it on day one. That’s all that matters.”
Deegan is in his second full season in the Camping World Truck Series, but is running this Xfinity race as the trucks are out this weekend.
“I’ve been working this whole year to try to do an Xfinity race, just to be able to see what it’s like, see that other level,” said Deegan, who will also be assisted by former Cup driver David Ragan this weekend. “When you’re at the level you’re at, like Trucks, you get so wrapped up in it that it’s always nice to see what the next level might be like.
“Also when you race in Xfinity when you go up, almost like in any sport, you’re going to have certain strengths and certain weaknesses because things are changing, the car is changing. I think to be able to see things like, “Okay, if I move to Xfinity, that’s something I should work on.” ‘
“I think just being able to experience everything and see the level of competition from the other drivers, there’s a lot going on.”
Deegan is the third woman to compete in the Xfinity Series this season. Natalie Decker has run three races this season (Martinsville, Nashville and Atlanta), and Julia Landauer ran at New Hampshire in July.
As for his goals for Saturday’s race, Deegan has a couple.
“Our goal for the first stage is to stay on the main lap, find what I like, what changes we need with the car because I’ve never done a long race to be able to know how they went during a race,” deegan said “Just really go after the second stage, but also be there, avoid the carnage. Hopefully there won’t be any and we’ll have a clean run.”