She is the talk of NASCAR right now.
All of NASCAR.
But is it for the right reasons?
Hailie Deegan was already the first woman to lead the points standings in any major racing series, regional or national.
The 17-year-old daughter of Off Road star Brian Deegan of Temecula won the third race of her two seasons in three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at Colorado National Speedway Saturday night.
For the the third time, the checkers were preceded by the wrecker.
On a late race restart, Bill McAnally Racing teammate Derek Kraus went three-wide in turn one to bump past Deegan and take the lead.
On the white flag lap, Deegan, running second, got underneath Kraus in turn three and turned him out of the way to take the lead, and the race.
Deegan made no apologies for her tactics in the post-race press conference.
“I didn’t expect (Kraus) to take a swing at me like that,” Deegan said of losing the lead to her BMR teammate. “In the end, like I told you guys last week, you take a swing at me and I’m going to take a swing right back at you.”
With the lengthy weather delays that eventually postponed Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan to Monday, NASCAR on FOX announcers Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon had plenty of time to comment on the regional touring series race at Colorado.
They even replayed the video of the controversial finish.
“You’re there to win the race,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer Waltrip. “Racin’ is racin’ when you’re going for the checkered flag.
“Hailie Deegan did exactly what she had to do to win. Good on her. You go, girl.”
Deegan, who’s been described emotionally as the female version Kyle Busch, is a departure from most racing scripts because she is the aggressor.
When Cindy Spies of Palmdale competed for a track championship at Orange Show Speedway. her family feared for her safety.
Male drivers in the series conspired against her, even putting up bounties on social media to anyone who could take her out of a race.
“Hard racing is hard racing,” says Deegan, who turns 18 on July 18. “If you race me hard, I’m going to race you hard. But I have to admit, that racing was fun.”
Keegan was mobbed Saturday at the drivers autograph session.
Her social media followers are becoming an army across the nation.
Kraus leads the series’ points chase by 14 over second-place Deegan.
The next West Series race will be on the road course at Sonoma Raceway a week from Saturday, as the familiar companion of the Toyota/SaveMart 350.
The West Series returns to Kern County Raceway Park Oct. 26, and wraps up the next week with the NASCAR Cup Weekend at Phoenix.
Ladies Night has taken on a whole new meaning in NASCAR.