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Hailie Deegan becomes first female to win NASCAR K&N Pro Series race

A 17-year-old who only receive her license a year ago has just become the first female driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race. 

Hailie Deegan is now in the lead for rookie of the year standings after she catapulted to victory during the final lap in the NAPA Auto Parts/Idaho 208 on Saturday night. 

The daughter of motocross great Brian Deegan took the lead from Cole Rouse, her Bill McAnally Racing teammate, on the white-flag lap. It was the only lap she led. 

‘This has to be the best day of my life right here,’ the teenager from Temecula, California, said after the race.

Seventeen-year-old Hailie Deegan has become the first female driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race

Deegan is now in the lead for rookie of the year standings after she catapulted to victory during the final lap in the NAPA Auto Parts/Idaho 208 on Saturday night

Deegan is now in the lead for rookie of the year standings after she catapulted to victory during the final lap in the NAPA Auto Parts/Idaho 208 on Saturday night

‘It doesn’t get any better than this. People don’t understand how many days, how many hours I’ve put into this. How much work I’ve done to get to this moment.’ 

‘It’s just amazing. This is the happiest day of my life.’ 

Deegan is already being hailed as the next coming of Danica Patrick, the most well-known female driver in motorsports.

But Deegan said there is actually little in common between herself and Patrick.    

The teen is the daughter of motocross legend Brian Deegan. She grew up on dirt – not in IndyCar – and is trying to work her way through stock car’s lower levels. 

Deegan said the 'amazing moment' was easily the happiest night of her life on Saturday 

Deegan said the ‘amazing moment’ was easily the happiest night of her life on Saturday 

The daughter of motocross great Brian Deegan took the lead from Cole Rouse, her Bill McAnally Racing teammate, on the white-flag lap. It was the only lap she led

The daughter of motocross great Brian Deegan took the lead from Cole Rouse, her Bill McAnally Racing teammate, on the white-flag lap. It was the only lap she led

Deegan (pictured here with her team) is already being hailed as the next coming of Danica Patrick, the most well-known female driver in motorsports

Deegan (pictured here with her team) is already being hailed as the next coming of Danica Patrick, the most well-known female driver in motorsports

Despite her young age, Toyota officials saw potential in Deegan and lured her away from a promising off-road truck career to the world of stock cars.  

Deegan spent some time testing last year with Bill McAnally, and a deal was struck to race a full K&N schedule this season. 

And while she’s racing against drivers with years of experience, Deegan has more than held her own, leading laps last week at the Las Vegas dirt track and twice finishing second while building a strong case for rookie of the year.

Heady stuff considering Deegan just became old enough to drive legally on the streets a year ago.

‘It’s funny, because coming into this year we were like, “Okay, our goal is to run top five,”‘ Deegan said. 

‘And now it’s like, “I want to win.” It’s fun to see how your goals change so quickly.’

Despite her young age, Toyota officials saw potential in Deegan and lured her away from a promising off-road truck career to the world of stock cars

Despite her young age, Toyota officials saw potential in Deegan and lured her away from a promising off-road truck career to the world of stock cars

Then again, moving quickly is part of Deegan’s DNA.

She grew up going to motocross races with her dad, a 10-time X-Games medalist and founding member of the Metal Mulisha.

Brian Deegan became a cult icon for the crazy stunts he pulled on a motorcycle, to say nothing of the devastating crashes that left him with broken bones too numerous to count. 

Eventually he moved from two wheels to four, embarking on a successful off-road truck career.

While other little girls were playing with dolls, Deegan was always in her dad’s back pocket at the track. It seemed almost inevitable that she would end up behind the wheel.

Deegan was eight when she climbed into her own truck the first time. She won a championship and quickly moved up the ranks, reaching the pro level a couple years ago – which meant young Hailie was at the same start line as her old man.

Deegan's dedication is evidenced by the fact she graduated high school with straight-As at 16, allowing her to spend more time racing. She is pictured here receiving her diploma in June

Deegan’s dedication is evidenced by the fact she graduated high school with straight-As at 16, allowing her to spend more time racing. She is pictured here receiving her diploma in June

While other little girls were playing with dolls, Deegan was always in her dad's back pocket at the track. It seemed almost inevitable that she would end up behind the wheel

While other little girls were playing with dolls, Deegan was always in her dad’s back pocket at the track. It seemed almost inevitable that she would end up behind the wheel

There was no trash-talking, though. Good-natured ribbing, maybe, but mostly just support.

‘He’s the reason I’m good at this,’ Deegan said. ‘He’s always like, “If you’re not 110 percent into this you’re not going to make it.”‘

‘So I train my butt off when I’m off the track. I work out all the time. I’m always watching film. I practice all the time. I have a dirt oval in my backyard that I practice on, and a road course. I race late models, go karts. Anything I can get in.’ 

McAnally credits Brian with giving Deegan a solid foundation. 

‘She’s just got a great knowledge of racing,’ he said. ‘She can tell you what she needs out of a car to feel comfortable, to go fast.’ 

‘We have kids who have won some big races, and have years and years of experience, and this is her first season, so to do what she’s done this season is quite impressive.’

Deegan’s dedication is evidenced by the fact she graduated high school with straight-As at 16, allowing her to spend more time racing.

While she's racing against drivers with years of experience, Deegan has more than held her own on the track 

While she’s racing against drivers with years of experience, Deegan has more than held her own on the track 

Deegan (19) is pictured here racing during the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East New Smyrna 175 auto race at the New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in February 

Deegan (19) is pictured here racing during the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East New Smyrna 175 auto race at the New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in February 

But both Deegan and McAnally are pumping the brakes when it comes to a rapid rise in NASCAR. 

Deegan is still the new kid in the garage, and in an age when sponsorships are drying up and finding a competitive ride is harder than ever, the road to racing’s pinnacle has never been tougher.

‘She’s used to driving through it and over it, and quite successfully, but this is different,’ McAnally explained. ‘She’s learning. She’s paying her dues.’

And Deegan doesn’t mind taking things slow, at least off the track.

The teen knows NASCAR is a more lucrative career path than off-road trucks, which is a big reason why she made the leap. But she also transitioned to pavement because it’s something new.

At truck races, she’s Brian Deegan’s daughter. At stock car races, it’s almost the opposite.

‘Coming here, it’s like, people don’t even connect it,’ she said. ‘Some people say, “I didn’t realize you were Brian Deegan’s daughter.” It’s my own world and it’s my own racing.’

Deegan knows NASCAR is a more lucrative career path than off-road trucks - a big reason why she made the leap. But she also transitioned to pavement because it's something new

Deegan knows NASCAR is a more lucrative career path than off-road trucks – a big reason why she made the leap. But she also transitioned to pavement because it’s something new

That may be why she bristles, ever so slightly, when Patrick’s name is always brought up. Patrick retired earlier this year.

‘Yes, I’m a girl. Yes, we’re some of the only girls in racing,’ Deegan said. 

‘But I came from a different racing background. I have family in a different racing world. I’m a different personality on the track. We have different driving styles. The only thing that compares us is we’re girls.’

In other words, she’s okay with being the next Deegan. Not the next Danica.

And at the moment, Deegan’s simply just enjoying herself.

‘This stuff is just fun,’ she said. ‘I’m the person who likes to try new things.’ 

‘This is a new thing. I’ve been racing off road for seven or eight years, and I feel like I’ve enjoyed that a lot, but I wanted to try something new and this is all new to me.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk