Hailie Deegan returns at Daytona for IMSA Pilot Challenge opener
Ford Performance driver Hailie Deegan will enter the Daytona opener of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for the third time in her career, in her fourth start in the Mustang GT4.
NASCAR star Hailie Deegan will return behind the wheel of the Ford Mustang GT4 operated by PF Racing for the next two weeks, as the Ford Performance driver gets ready to contest her fourth start in the sports car championship IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
The Harrisonville-based team will line up the #41 and #42 Mustangs in the GS class for Deegan - who returns after partnering Chase Briscoe in 2022 - Zane Smith, Harrison Burton and Ben Rhodes.
Deegan made her debut in off-road racing, winning titles before moving to asphalt and stockcars. In her first year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2018, she claimed her first victory, then followed by two more in 2019, when she finished third in the championship standings for Bill McAnally Racing.
Deegan then stepped up to a full-time ARCA Menards drive in 2020, when she had 4 top-five finishes and 17 top-tens in her season with DGR-Crosley, again finishing third in the points' standings. In 2021 and 2022, the Ford-sponsored driver moved to the NASCAR Truck Series with DGR, in what revealed to be two more challenging campaigns. In a one off appearance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, though, Deegan showed great pace and marginally missed out on a top ten at debut. In 2023, she will move to Truck series top team ThorSport.
A talented and versatile driver, Deegan also made occasional appearances in sportscar racing: her first participation in GT4 dates back to 2020, when she entered the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge opener at Daytona in the Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 - running a special livery in honour of American legend female driver Lyn St James. She would later return behind the wheel for the Laguna Seca round.
In 2022, Deegan was back at Daytona with PF Racing - and had a really strong race after a series of contacts and unfortunate events took the Californian out of contention for a top-five and eventually finished 24th.
Deegan is set to be the third female driver on the grid of the 2023 edition of the race, joining Aurora Straus (Crucial Motorsports McLaren) in the GS class, as well as TCR class two-time champion Taylor Hagler (Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai).
Track action at Daytona will start on Friday 20th January for the traditional tests of the ROAR Before the Rolex 24, where the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams will have five practice sessions, before next weekend's 4-hour race.