AM Racing announced Thursday that Hailie Deegan will join the team with a multiyear agreement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series beginning in 2024.
The deal was unveiled at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where the team – established by Tim Self and operated by Kevin Cywinski – expressed its intent for an expanded presence in the Xfinity Series, with the assets and means to field two cars next year. Deegan will drive the No. 15 Ford next season.
Deegan moves to Xfinity competition after three seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series – two with David Gilliland’s operation and this year with ThorSport Racing. The 22-year-old driver also has one Xfinity Series start, driving a Bobby Dotter-owned SS GreenLight Racing entry to 13th place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last fall.
“I think the conversations with everybody in the industry selling me (on) I need to get to Xfinity — people that have experienced it, people that have been a part of it, and drivers who are part of this series — so I think that’s something that has gone a long way in reassuring me that like, ‘OK, I think this is really the right step for me and direction of my career,'” Deegan said. “You see a lot of people skip trucks and have success in Xfinity and the Cup Series, so I don’t think it’s something that you have to do, but obviously I’ve done trucks and it’s had its ups and downs. We’ve had some really good moments; we’ve had some really not-so-good moments. So I think just moving on from that and starting fresh in the Xfinity car and with this new team and building something really great from there.”
Deegan joined the Ford driver development program in December 2019. Before reaching NASCAR’s national series, she was a three-time winner in the ARCA Menards Series West.
“We are excited to see Hailie continuing to advance her career by running full-time with AM Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2024,” Mark Rushbrook, global director Ford Performance Motorsports, said in a release. “Hailie works so hard on and off the track, and AM Racing will surround her with a great team to continue her development. From what we saw from Hailie in her Xfinity Series debut in Las Vegas last year, we look forward to some great results in 2024.”
AM Racing has fielded entries in Xfinity, Craftsman Trucks and ARCA Menards Series competition this season, joining the Xfinity ranks just this past year. Brett Moffitt – a winner last weekend in Truck Series competition at Talladega Superspeedway — has been the driver of the team’s full-time Xfinity entry, and AM Racing president Wade Moore said the company hopes he will return, though no decision has been announced regarding his future.
“The goal for us is to find a way to keep Brett within the program,” Moore said. “As of right now, we don’t have anything to really report on that. That is still our intentions. He’s done such a fantastic job for us — not only as a driver, but as it pertains to just a teammate and a person. He’s truly a guy that is someone that you can build around and someone you’d like to keep in your program, not just from a talent standpoint. We love his family and Stephanie and Cooper, so certainly something we’re going to keep moving down the field. We have all the necessary assets in order to run a two-car program next year, so that is the intentions as we move forward.”
In addition to Deegan’s signing, the team announced Airbox, Inc., and VIVA Tequila Seltzer will serve as primary partners through Deegan’s inaugural Xfinity season. Deegan and company dignitaries unveiled two show cars at the NASCAR Hall with those designs for the 2024 season.
Moore said that the agreement comes with a strengthening of ties and support with Ford, which added AM Racing to its list of Xfinity Series teams before this season. That also comes with an acknowledgement that Deegan’s results have included struggles during her three Truck Series campaigns with glimpses of promise (five top 10s in 67 starts) as she continues to get acclimated to the national-series stage.
“I look at it from an emotional standpoint, because that’s really what I have to go on,” Moore said. “She is, again, very committed, very passionate. She does have a lot to prove, you’re right. She hasn’t maybe lived up to even her own expectations. But with that, we still have a lot of room for growth, too. So I think that coincides very well. But from truly a performance standpoint, Ford believes in her, Ford is going to continue to stay behind her, and who am I, who are we as AM Racing to doubt whatever Mark Rushbrook or … anyone from that camp has to say when it comes to competition.
“So we’ll continue to follow their lead and work hand in hand with them. But again, we’re growing. She’s got a lot of room to grow. We’re going to do it together, and that’s why I think it’ll work.”