Hailie Deegan put her name in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West record books in setting the fast mark in qualifying for the Star Nursery 100 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on Thursday, becoming the first female driver to win a pole award in the 64-year history of the series.
The 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Temecula, California went on to win her heat race and finish second in the feature event in Bill McAnally Racing’s No. 19 Mobil 1/NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry, as the series raced on a dirt track for the first time in nearly 40 years.
“It was a struggle from the start,” said the series rookie. “My shifter kept popping out of gear, but we made it work. We fought back and got back up there in the end. We had the car to win, but lost too much there in the middle. I wish we could have stayed up there a little more.”
Deegan was one of four BMR drivers who ran up front in the event. She led the early laps, before Derek Kraus got by in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry on Lap 20. He paced the field until spinning on Lap 44, leaving Cole Rouse to take over the top spot in the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry and lead through Lap 61.
NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender Christopher Bell drove BMR’s No. 60 NAPA Belts & Hoses Toyota Camry in Thursday’s race. After making a pit stop to repair damage from an early incident, he battled his way to the front on Lap 69 and appeared headed to victory. He was penalized by NASCAR for jumping the restart on Lap 95, however, and put to the back.
Deegan got shuffled back in the running order midway through the event and worked her way back to the front in the late stages to come home in the runner-up spot, matching her previous best career finish.
Brendan Gaughan, who won back-to-back series championships with the Bill McAnally-led team in 2000 and 2001, had a solid night in finishing fifth in the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota Camry. His return to the series included a reunion of the crew members from his championship team.
Rouse finished behind Gaughan in sixth, while Bell came back to take 10th. Kraus was sidelined in a late-race incident and finished 17th.
Rouse moved up a spot to third in the championship standings, 35 points out of first. The 21-year-old driver from Fort Smith, Arkansas has five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season.
Kraus – a 17-year-old from Stratford, Wisconsin – is fourth in points, seven markers behind Rouse. He has three wins, four poles, six top fives, and eight top 10s this season.
Deegan is second in rookie points and sixth in the overall standings. She has four top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
The Las Vegas race, won by Sheldon Creed, is slated to be televised on NBCSN on Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m. PT.
The next event on the K&N Pro Series West schedule will be the NAPA AUTO PARTS 208 at Idaho’s Meridian Speedway on Sept. 29.