DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Hailie Deegan wasted no time on Friday proving that she’s prepared to go toe to toe with the best that the ARCA Menards Series has to offer.
Making her debut at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Deegan posted the fastest lap time across two practice sessions Friday afternoon, touring the 2.5-mile high banks in 49.027 seconds (183.572 mph) with the No. 4 Monster Energy Ford for DGR-Crosley.
Deegan is running the full ARCA schedule this year as a Ford Performance development driver and has already experienced Daytona once this year, albeit in a sports car last month during an IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event.
She ran 24 laps overall on Friday, despite not going out during the final round of practice.
“That was crazy. That was the real drafting practice that I had with more than five cars,” she said. “I needed that, and I didn’t really get a lot of that in the test. I’ve been feeling that out and feeling what it’s like to suck up to the rear end of other cars.
“It was really good leading the pack too. It felt super stable, not darty at all. It does get a little tight, but I think we have a really good platform to build on.”
Venturini Motorsports’ Drew Dollar was second-quickest on the overall speed charts Friday, turning a best lap of 49.093 seconds (183.326 mph) with his No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota.
Tanner Gray ended the day third-fastest in a second DGR-Crosley Ford (49.122/183.217), followed by Riley Herbst for Joe Gibbs Racing and Bret Holmes with his family-owned team.
Connor Hall and Jacob Heafner – teammates at Chad Bryant Racing – were sixth and seventh, respectively. The top seven drivers Friday all cleared the 183 mph threshold.
Gus Dean, Michael Self and Ryan Repko completed the top 10, while World of Outlaws sprint car star David Gravel was 13th-best for KBR Development in a GMS Racing-aided Chevrolet.
The top 12 single-lap speeds on Friday all came out of the first practice round, with many drivers electing to sit out Happy Hour after finding everything they needed with their cars.
Hall led the final practice at 49.476 seconds (181.906 mph), ahead of Dave Mader III, Dominique van Wieringen, Willie Mullins and Sean Corr.
General Tire Pole Qualifying for the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Christian Eckes, now racing full time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, won the pole for last year’s race.