Hailie Deegan show-stealing comeback ends with P2 after an early spin
Upcoming NASCAR star Hailie Deegan finished in a spectacular second place one of the most exciting rounds of the season, while Brittney Zamora took home a P6 after fighting on top for the whole race.
The "Roseville October Classic" round of the 2019 NASCAR K&N West series highlighted once again the talent of the young star of American motorsport, who went on to earn her first second place finish of the season after suffering a contact caused by Jagger Jones, which forced her to resume her race from the back of the group when she was fighting for the race lead.
The #19 Toyota driver proved to be in the right mood since the qualifying session, when she claimed the fastest lap and conquered the pole position for the 150-laps race in the All American Speedway. Behind her, Derek Kraus was second fastest, followed by Jagger Jones in third, Garner, Souza and Brittney Zamora in sixth.
As usual, Derek Kraus had another amazing start and moved up to first place despite a good starting reaction at the green flag by the pole-sitter Hailie Deegan, while Brittney Zamora battled against Todd Souza for fifth position. The first yellow flag was waved out in the short All American Speedway track on lap 8, for debris.
At the restart, Hailie Deegan attempted a daring passing move on the outside of Derek Kraus, but he was able to hold the leadership. Brittney Zamora went on attack mode and engaged in an exciting battle with Buddy Shepherd and Dylan Garner: she moved past Garner after a fierce side-by-side duel and then past the driver of the #27 car immediately before the second caution.
When the green was waved back in the air, Deegan had a strong restart but, as happened before this season, the young Californian was hit by a rival, losing the possibility to compete for the lead. The incident forced Deegan to a difficult recovery from the back of the group.
Brittney Zamora continued another convincing race and, on lap 28, she passed Todd Souza for P4 and immediately resumed another exciting fight with Buddy Shepherd which lasted several laps until the 20-year old lady finally moved past once again her rival, conquering the third place. In the meantime, Derek Kraus increased his gap from the rest of the pack and Hailie Deegan started her comeback, running eleventh on lap 35.
Jagger Jones, until that moment running in a comfortable second position with 3 seconds advantage to Brittney Zamora, began to feel the pressure of the driver of the #99 Toyota, who reduced the gap in few laps and brought herself right behind Jones' #6 car.
Meanwhile, the battle for second was more alive than ever: Derek Kraus had a hard time to pass the #77 lapped car, with Jones and Zamora taking advantage and closing in on the race leader. Few laps later, both Jagger Jones and Brittney Zamora passed Derek Kraus, who was forced to stop for a flat tire which also caused another caution period.
Hailie Deegan in the meantime had recovered some more positions, and ran in seventh when the Kraus-caused caution came out. From then on, she became the undisputed protagonist of the second half of the race, as she put on an exciting show lap after lap for a memorable comeback.
With a perfect restart, she immediately moved up to sixth, before chasing down Huddleston and overtaking him with a strong move for fifth. Just a couple of laps later, it was the time for a heart-stopping fight against Buddy Shepherd for P4.
After clearing Shepherd for fourth as well, Todd Souza became the next target. Huddleston tried to take advantage from Deegan's momentum and ran as close as possible to the back of the #19 Toyota, without making a move stick on Hailie himself.
On lap 80, the Californian lady put some more pressure on Todd Souza and attacked him with an aggressive move that caused a little car loss control for expert number #13 driver, and overtaked him after a no-holds-barred side-by-side fight for third position.
After an already exceptional comeback, only two more drivers were left ahead of the unstoppable Deegan: Brittney Zamora in second and Jagger Jones in the lead. On lap 97, Deegan cut Zamora's advantage short and the two NASCAR K&N West Series girls started a long battle that will be remembered as one of the most exciting of the entire NASCAR series season, with Zamora ultimately forced to give up the position to Deegan on lap 105.
Brittney Zamora was involved in more battles against Todd Souza and Buddy Shepherd, after a restart from a caution caused by Japanese driver Takuma Koga. The caution was good news for Derek Kraus, as he recovered the time lost during the pit stop. Kraus took advantage from the battles in front of him and passed his rivals to take his #16 blue Toyota into P4.
On the last ten laps of the race, Hailie Deegan tried to further reduce the gap from race leader Jagger Jones: she closed in, but it wasn't enough to launch a final attack. Jagger Jones won his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, followed by Hailie Deegan, author of a superb performance.
Brittney Zamora added another solid result to her great season, ending sixth after fighting for the top positions for most the race duration.
Californian Kern Country Raceway Park will host the next NASCAR K&N Pro Series event on October 26th.
Ph Credits: Meg Oliphant/NASCAR