With decades of experience as a crew chief followed by decades of experience as a broadcaster and analyst, Larry McReynolds knows a thing or two about NASCAR. So, when Hailie Deegan announced her big move to ThorSport Racing back in December, the 64-year-old Fox NASCAR was cautiously optimistic.
On the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show On Track, which McReynolds co-hosts with Danielle Trotta, McReynolds said that the 21-year-old Deegan still has a lot more to prove if she hopes to be considered one of the promising new faces in the sport.
"I say this with the utmost respect because it's beneficial for everybody involved for Hailie Deegan to perform," McReynolds said. "I mean she is a female. She is a minority, driving a NASCAR Camping World, or what's now Craftsman Truck Series truck. It's so beneficial that she performs."
McReynolds continued by pointing to Deegan's performance in recent years. In 2021 and 2022, she ran two full-time seasons with David Gilliland Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, finishing 17th and 21st in the standings, respectively. While she earned Most Popular Driver honors in both those seasons, McReynolds thinks she has plenty of more to accomplish on the track if she wants to be taken seriously as a racer.
"But to me, this is a year where the rubber's going to meet the road," McReynolds continued. "She has basically 46 starts, Danielle. She made that one start in 2020 at Kansas, and she bounced out there, never been in a truck before, back in an era of COVID where you lined them up, and you raced them. And she finished 16th. I felt like she overachieved because they actually ran her out of gas that day. But since then, she ran 22 races in '21, 23 races in '22, and has three top-10 finishes. A best finish of 6th at Talladega this past fall."
"And nobody knows this better than Hailie. She has got to step it up. Because I even go back to last year at David Gilliland Racing. That 17 truck was running up front hands over fist. Winning races. To me, a third season, the rubber's meeting the road. I don't care how many YouTube followers you have or social media. That's all grand. That's all great. Gonna have to start performing on that thing called a racetrack."
MORE: When It Comes to Aggressive Racing, Hailie Deegan Is Taking a Few Pages Out of Kyle Busch's Book
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