UPDATE: Finalist Zane Smith’s truck was disqualified after post-race inspection. The official statement from NASCAR reads: “Number 38 was disqualified for failing to meet NASCAR rules specifications under the following rules: 14.16.1 – 1-4 Lug Nuts”

The original story about Hailie Deegan follows:

There’s no doubt that Hailie Deegan has been tough so far in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Deegan, who is highly anticipated to become a big hit in NASCAR, recorded his 25and start in the Truck Series in Friday night’s Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

And like many of her previous 24 starts, Deegan once again had a very tough outing, finishing 33rd (she originally finished 34th before Zane Smith’s disqualification) in the 36-truck field (more on that in a bit) .

When Danica Patrick retired in 2018, her heir apparent — whether she wanted to take the job or not — was Deegan. With Danica gone, many saw Deegan as the next big hope for female drivers in stock car racing.

Like Patrick, Deegan – even though she was just a fresh-faced teenager – was attractive, a very eloquent spokesperson for her sponsors well beyond her years, had the comfortable look of a longtime veteran and quickly became a fan favorite (she has nearly 128,000 Twitter followers).

It was also highly coveted by teams, sponsors and manufacturers.

Deegan had strong performances in some of the lower racing ranks such as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (finished 5and in the final ranking at 17 in 2018 and 3rd in 2019, with three wins combined over the two seasons).

When she was promoted full-time to the ARCA Menards Series in 2020, despite failing to visit victory lane, the Temecula, Calif. resident had a very strong performance, winning four top-5s and 17 top-10s in 20 starts, finishing an impressive third place in the final standings.

At the early age of only 19 years old.

Hailie Deegan is in her second full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This led to another promotion up the racing ladder, moving to Ford-powered David Gilliland’s Truck Series team in 2021.

Unfortunately, that’s where Deegan’s forward movement hit the wall, as did the three straight falls she endured late in the season.

She finally finished the 2021 campaign in 17andthe same position it had held with no further up or down movement since 11and race of the 22-race season.

She only managed one top 10 finish last season, a 7and– location pointing to Gateway, just outside of St. Louis.

Breaking down his 2021 season stats further, Deegan:

* Completed between 11and and 15and just three times.

* Completed between 16and and 20and six times.

* Completed between 21st and 25and Seven times.

* And completed between 26and and 30and five times.

In total, Deegan had an 18.0 starting average and a 20.9 finishing average, with just 11 lead laps in the 22 races she entered.

Unfortunately, things didn’t start much better for Deegan in his second full-time campaign in 2022 than they did as a rookie in 2021.

In the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway two weeks ago, as she completed the 106 laps of the No. 1 Ford F-150, she finished 17and.

And then Friday night in Las Vegas, after a green flag restart after a warning, she was recovered in a crash on lap 28 on the 1.5 mile oval that also involved Colby Howard, Kyle Busch, Zane Smith, Chase Purdy and Matt Crafton.

The wreckage was certainly not Deegan’s doing, but like so many times in his budding NASCAR career, it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is not much you can do in such a situation.

Certainly, whether it’s the Truck Series, the Cup or Xfinity, many NASCAR drivers historically have a bad luck in their second full-time season. It’s been that way since the sport began over 70 years ago.

Unfortunately, it seems Deegan’s sophomore spell began even earlier as a freshman – and continued. It leaves Las Vegas, the second race of the season, after having lost 10 places in the Truck classification, falling to 27th place.

To her credit, 20-year-old Deegan doesn’t give up on herself, her abilities and talent or her goals and dreams of not only reaching the Cup Series, but also becoming a star in the first series of NASCAR.

Have no fear, that success will come. It may take a little longer than she, her fans and her sponsors might have hoped, but Deegan is far too good to continue to be mired in poor statistics.

All it will likely take for her is earning a solid top-5 spot or two in a short period of time – perhaps as early as the next Truck Series race on March 19 at Atlanta Motor Speedway – to give her, to her and her team, a significant boost in confidence. , and from there, his first win should soon follow.

Once that happens, more wins are likely on the horizon for her.

So don’t give up on young Miss Deegan just yet. Remember, she’s still very young, still learning – and most importantly, learning from her mistakes – and will become a much better pilot in time.

As for Friday’s race, Chandler Smith held off Zane Smith – who was later disqualified due to lug nut issues – and Kyle Busch to take the checkered flag. Here are the updated results and points standings for the drivers after the disqualification:

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Follow Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski