Unfortunate final lap cost Hailie Deegan a Top 10 finish at Daytona Road Course
In NASCAR Truck's second round of the 2021 season on the Daytona Road Course, Hailie Deegan had another unlucky finish after running a solid race: a flat tyre denied her of another potential top-10 in her first full-time rookie season in the series.
One week after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at the Daytona International Speedway, Hailie Deegan returned returned behind the wheel of the Ford #1 truck last Friday for the second round of the championship.
It was Hailie's third appearance at the Daytona Road Couse layout, where she had already competed during her 2020 ARCA Menards and IMSA commitments.
Deegan finished just outside the Top 20 the inaugural 20201 race despite a strong run and after consistently fighting within the Top 5, but a late spin forced out of contention for a better result.
The driver of the Monster Energy Ford F-150 took the green flag from P23 - as the field started with results from the prior round making up the starting grid. In stage one, Toyota's John Hunter Nemechek led the action as he moved ahead of Sheldon Creed and Ben Rhodes at the start.
The extra challenges posed by the wet weather conditions characterized Stage 1, with Hailie Deegan mostly focusing on a safe run. She pitted when the only caustion was called out, with 5 laps to go before Stage 2.
The lady from Temecula, California, completed Stage 1 in 27th, with the whole pack trying to catch up with John Hunter Nemechek.
Most of the drivers opted for the slick tyres when the weather conditions improved before the start of the second stage, while race leader Nemechek went in the opporite direction and continued with the wet tyres.
This decision ultimately denied the #4 truck driver of a potential victory and handed the lead of the pack to Sheldon Creed, who took advantage of the better tyre choice.
Both Zane Smith and Raphaël Lessard overtook the stage 1 dominator Nemechek, who also had to fight an oil pressure issues which terminated his chances with two laps to go in Stage 2. Lessard took the stage win, also thanks to a different strategy as most of the other drivers had opted for an early pit stop.
Deegan battled in the Top 15 at the half-way mark into the second stage and ended seventh, earning four bonus points.
The 20-year old lady resumed the action for the final stage from P20 - while Creed, Riley Herbst and Ben Rhodes battled for the victory. At this point, several cautions extended the race to more than one overtime restarts.
Rhodes took control of the race in the extra lap, but another caution quickly interrupted again and denied him the win.
Nemechek - author of a strong comeback after the Stage 2 difficulties - battled Creed in the second overtime - but yet another crash delayed the chequered flag.
In the final restart, Deegan was running 11th in a close battle for the top ten, but a flat tyre on the final lap relegated Hailie to a 28th place finish.
Rhodes defended the lead from Creed's desperate attacks at the final restart and secured victory in Daytona's Round 2 after claiming the win in the season opener. Creed and Nemechek finished second and third respectively.
"So close. Lost a solid Top 10 finish tonight at Daytona road course after getting a flat coming out of turn 4 with only a lap to go." - wrote Deegan on her social media feeds.
"Still happy I got tu run all the laps and gain a lot more knowledge about these trucks.
Can't t thank the guys at David Gilliland Racing enough for all their hard work!"
Jennifer Jo Cobb, who had a great first race in Daytona and ended P17 after running a very clean and solid race, finished P35 out of the 40 entries at the Road Course.
The Silver State 200 event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be up next, in what will be the third round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck 2021 season, on March 5th.