The driver of the No. 1 David Gilliland Racing Ford F-150 nearly made NASCAR history in 2021. Hailie Deegan finished the 2021 Camping World Truck Series season 17th in points, one spot away from tying the best finish by a female driver in series history and two spots away from setting a record.
Jennifer Jo Cobb currently holds the record after finishing the 2014 Truck Series season 16th in points. The veteran driver-owner started 21 of the 22 races — she did not qualify for the race at Eldora Speedway — and posted an average finish of 23rd with two DNFs. Cobb did not secure any top-10 finishes.
Deegan, by comparison, started all 22 races of her rookie season with an average finish of 20.9 and three DNFs. The rookie driver also made NASCAR history at World Wide Technology Raceway by finishing seventh and becoming the first female driver to secure a top-10 finish away from Daytona International Speedway. Deegan ended the season with 360 points, 44 behind Ryan Truex in the 16th position.
Deegan Has Yet to Confirm Her Plans for 2022
While Deegan didn’t tie Cobb’s best finish, she will likely have another opportunity to do so in 2022. She has expressed a desire to run full-time in the Truck Series again, but she hasn’t confirmed her plans yet.
According to a report by TobyChristie.com , a David Gilliland Racing team representative said that Deegan “is expected” to return to the organization in 2022. She has not confirmed her return, and DGR did not respond to a request for comment from Heavy.
If Deegan returns to the No. 1 as TobyChristie.com reports, she will have an opportunity to make history in multiple ways. She can pass Cobb for the best finish by a female driver, and she can also take over the third spot on the all-time starts list.
Cobb has the most Truck Series starts by a female driver with 230. Kelly Sutton is second with 54 between 2003 and 2007. Deborah Renshaw (38), Tammy Jo Kirk (32), and Natalie Decker (32) round out the top five. If Deegan suits up for all 23 races on the 2022 schedule , she will take over the third spot on the list with 46 starts.
Deegan Should Have More Opportunities To Improve in 2022
The 2021 season was unique for Deegan. She took on the Truck Series for the first time as a full-time driver but did so without any previous experience at 21 of the tracks. She also headed out for 18 of the races with no seat time due to the series only having practice and qualifying at four tracks — Daytona International Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Nashville Superspeedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
Deegan showed that she could contend for a top starting spot when given the chance. She qualified ninth at Daytona, 14th at Nashville, and 10th at Phoenix. The trip to COTA served as an outlier as she qualified 28th at the Texas road course. Though she finished 14th.
The 2022 season will feature far more opportunities for Deegan to prepare and gain experience at each track. NASCAR announced on November 19 that practice and qualifying will return for all of the races on the schedule, but there will be some changes to the previous format.
According to this updated format, the Truck Series drivers will have 20-minute practice sessions at oval tracks and road courses. The trip to Bristol Motor Speedway for the dirt race will feature two separate 50-minute practice sessions.
There will be some dates on the schedule that feature even more adjustments. These “expanded” weekends will have one practice session that lasts 50 minutes. The expanded weekends could feature all three series active at the same track, but they could also receive the label even if only one series is running. The Truck Series expanded schedule features Daytona, Atlanta, Bristol dirt, Knoxville, Sonoma, Mid-Ohio, Nashville, and Phoenix championship weekend.