LAS VEGAS – As Jagger Jones approached lapped cars, Hailie Deegan takes advantage of the traffic with
“I had to do something to make the move. So I shoved my nose in there, squiggled my way through that corner and just parked around the bottom of [turns] 3 and 4 and got it done,” Deegan shared after the race.
Deegan only led one lap in the main event, and it was the one that counted. Austin Reed started on pole and led the opening eight laps before Derek Kraus paced the field for 60 laps. Kraus was passed by Jones and Deegan with 31 laps to go, and Jones was able to pull away to a four-second lead with 10 laps to go. However, Deegan was able to find some speed to pull off the pass going into Turn 1.
“In the end we wouldn’t have caught him if it weren’t for the lapped cars,” she said. “And they got in his way. If I was him, I’d be mad. Really mad. But some peoples losses are other peoples wins and we ended up getting it done. I knew what we had to do to win. I knew it was going to come down to the last lap again and we made it happen.
“This was my kind of — what’s the word — rebound race. Coming here, especially in the heat race since we didn’t do that great, I was like, ‘man, I’ve got a lot of work to do tonight,’ but I wasn’t going to go down second again. I was done getting second. I’ve got second a ton of times now, and it just is not fun knowing that there’s a little more you can do, a little better you can be, and I just wanted to be the best I could tonight and go out and show everyone if they counted us out in the heat race that we weren’t done.”
It was Jones’ first career start in the K&N Pro Series West start, who seemed to be on cruise control toward a victory. Fate determined something different.
“Hailie [Deegan] definitely had a little more speed at the end,” he said defeated. “But I think I would’ve held her off no problem, but lapped card cut me off, pushed me right into the tire on the last lap and Hailie was just able to get underneath me. Definitely wanted that win.”
Jones wasn’t upset at Deegan for her move. He was more upset at Kenny Bumbera, the lapped car that Jones was unable to pass in time before Deegan could get to his inside.
“Oh I think her move was fine,” Jones said of Deegan’s last lap maneuver. “I mean she didn’t really do anything too bad. It’s just the lapped car cut me off in front. It just pushed me up the track. Once that all happened she had a whole lane to herself. It was kind of given to her, which is unfortunate on the last lap. It just sucks sometimes.”
The Jefferson Pitts Racing driver, Joey Tanner, finished in third in his first career series with Kody Vanderwal and Todd Souza completing the top five. Derek Kraus finished sixth with Trevor Huddleston, Travis Milburn, Austin Reed and Matt Levin rounding out the top 10. The Star Nursery 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m. on NBCSN.
It was the start to a very historic night in Vegas. This was the first time that USAC, World of Outlaws and NASCAR competed at the same venue on the same evening. The action on track proved staying was well worth it. With Hailie Deegan winning the K&N West race, she is now the first ever female to lead the points in NASCAR’s history.
The NASCAR K&N race was the third main event race of the night that had a last lap pass on the dirt track. In the World of Outlaws Main Event, Donny Schatz was able to get by Daryn Pittman on the outside of Turns 3 and 4. The two were side by side at the line, with Schatz’s car just a nose in front of Pittman. In the USAC 360 Main Event, Jake Swanson edged out Charles Davis Jr by 0.187 seconds with his last lap pass.
The next race for the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series will be at Irwindale Speedway in California on March 30.