Deegan’s Driver Development Program Brings Her to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Ford Mustang
Monday, December 23, 2019

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Her Twitter bio says she’s “Not your typical 18yr old girl.”

Hailie Deegan most certainly is not your typical 18-year-old girl. She’s the only woman ever to have won a race in what now is known as the ARCA Menards Series West – she actually has three career wins to her name in that series – and in 2020, she’s bringing her talents to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

Introduced last week as a Ford Performance development driver, Deegan will race in the entire, 20-race ARCA Menards Series with the DGR-Crosley team and will compete in selected Michelin Pilot Challenge races in a Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4.

Her first order of business will be testing the Mustang GT4 at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona on the weekend of Jan. 3-5, followed by the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, which opens the Michelin Pilot Challenge on Friday, Jan. 24. Deegan is following a similar path to the one taken by previous Ford Performance development driver Chase Briscoe, who also competed in Michelin Pilot Challenge races and finished fifth in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season championship.

“I think it’s going to be definitely something that is going to help my career and better me as a driver,” said Deegan of going road racing with IMSA. “I think the reason why I took so much interest in doing the road courses is because they’re adding more road courses (in NASCAR) every single year.

“I can gain experience in IMSA, hopefully better my driving skills and continue to develop as an all-around driver. We have seen what it’s done for Chase Briscoe, how good he is on the road courses and what a better driver it made him. I am looking forward to being part of IMSA and hopefully having a little bit of success there too.”

Mark Rushbrook, the Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports, agrees that seat time in the Mustang GT4 greatly benefited Briscoe and should do the same for Deegan. Beyond that is the unique opportunity the multiple-driver format the Michelin Pilot Challenge provides.

“There’s a lot of reasons that we put our development drivers into the IMSA Mustang GT4s,” he said. “Obviously, part of it is about getting that driving experience in a different car, getting road course experience. Another big reason for us doing this is for building the feeling of teamwork or family across our development drivers.

“We are a family company. We approach racing in the same way. So, to be able to have our development drivers bond together, even by sharing a car, hopefully winning a race together, doing well in a race together, is great at building their feeling of being a part of the Ford family that will hopefully stay with them up to the (NASCAR) Cup Series.”

How many Michelin Pilot Challenge races Deegan will compete in and which ones remain to be seen. But Rushbrook did offer some insight.

“I think it’s going to be heavily loaded towards the front part of the season,” he said. “We haven’t made a final commitment. Obviously, there are conflicts between the ARCA series and the full IMSA schedule. There’s no possible way to do the full schedule, but we’ll get her as much race time in the IMSA Mustang as possible.”

Sounds like as good a reason as any for a Hailie Deegan fan to get to Daytona for the Roar or the Michelin Pilot Challenge race – or both.

Deegan and Briscoe begin the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday, January 24 at 1 p.m. EST as part of the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend. The race can be seen live in the United States on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and on IMSA.tv internationally. IMSA Radio will have live coverage as well.

The 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona will take place January 25-26. Tickets are available at www.DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.

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