Hailie Deegan returns to the track at Talladega
After a great first half of the race, Hailie Deegan took home her third top-ten finish of her rookie season in the ARCA Menards championship, as the series returns to the track.
The ARCA Menards Series was finally back on track after over three months with the third event of the 2020 season, the General Tire 200 in Talladega.
As usual this year, ARCA's star rookie Hailie Deegan was again under the spotlight after her impressive first race at Daytona ended with a second place - which established Deegan as a potential title contender - followed then by a seventh place finish in the second series event at Pheonix before the pandemic outbreak, that forced Deegan to only simulator training.
Despite this was the first experience for Deegan at the Talladega oval, the young lady's expectations were high, also because she proved to be really competitive in superspeedways during the season opener.
"After Daytona, I didn't realize how much fun superspeedway racing was going to be. I really loved it" - the Californian lady said before the on track return.
"Racing is always better when you have a good car! The guys at DGR Crosley gave me a really good Ford Fusion to work positive energy. They've been giving me really good stuff and I think that we can just go out there and hopefully expect to have another good run."
"I've been waiting to race for way too long, so hopefully we can get back to racing, have some good finishes and get the season back on track."
Hailie Deegan was sixth fastest in practice and took the start from third.
She was forced to a slow start after being blocked by pole-sitter Ryan Repko's not too fast reaction at the green flag.
In the meantime, Drew Dollar had already took the leadership, followed by Riley Herbst, Ryan Repko and Hailie Deegan in fourth place.
This group of four drivers, with the addition of Bret Holmes in fifth and Micheal Self in sixth, managed to pull away and put a comfortable gap between them and the rest of field until the mid-race break at lap 40.
The restart for the second half of the race proved more challenging for Deegan, as she was forced to give up some positions that relegated the #4 Ford Fusion car to battle away from the leading group.
Micheal Self was author of a great restart and his reaction gained him the first place. He maintained the lead until the final two laps, right before the big turning point of the evening:
a contact between Self and Riley Herbst forced the #25 car driver to a-half spin, leaving the glory of victory in the hands of Drew Dollar.
Ryan Repko and Bret Holmes completed the top three, followed by Herbst, Self and Thad Moffitt in sixth. Hailie Deegan ended seventh after a two-faced race, but took home another solid top-ten finish.
"Well today didn't go as well as Daytona did when we finished second, but at least we finished the race with the Toter Ford Fusion not getting damaged." - commented 18-year old Deegan. "Once I got hung out on the outside during the restart after the competition caution, I could never make up that lost ground. I lined up with my teammates Thad (Moffitt) and Tanner (Gray), but we were never able to catch the lead pack."
"When (Michael) Self spun at the end I thought that would be the caution we needed to restart with the pack, but he made an amazing save and the race stayed green. It wasn't the race we were hoping for, but it wasn't a bad day either."
After the initial three events of the ARCA Menards 2020 season, Micheal Self leads the standings with 130 points, with Hailie Deegan third at -14.
ARCA Menards and Hailie Deegan will be back on track Friday June 26th in the General Tire ANYWHEREISPOSSIBLE200 event at Pocono Raceway.