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Hailie Deegan is Getting a New Crew Chief

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What’s Happening?

Lost in the shuffle of the SHR news yesterday was news surrounding one of the Xfinity Series’ most popular drivers. Hailie Deegan will have a new crew chief as former crew chief Joe Williams and AM Racing have “Parted ways,” with Matt Lucas as interim crew chief. Who is Matt Lucas, and will this move work for Deegan?

  • Hailie Deegan has had a difficult start to 2024. In 12 races, she has no top-10 finishes, three DNFs, and sits 26th in points. This comes after an, at best, underwhelming three-year Truck Series stint in which she recorded only five top-10s and zero top-5s and never finished higher than 17th in the standings—all the while driving in race-winning equipment in those four seasons.
  • Deegan’s old crew chief, Joe Williams, had been at AM Racing for a while, and he was Deegan’s crew chief for her first Xfinity Series start in 2022. However, he and Deegan were unable to replicate the same success. Lucas, a 2-time Xfinity Series winning crew chief, takes the reins on an interim basis.
  • Fans have been waiting for Deegan to break out for a long time. She became the first female to win in the ARCA Menards Series East, winning one race in 2018 and two more in 2019. However, that success simply has not translated.

Who Is Matt Lucas?

Matt Lucas has held many jobs in the industry throughout his career. According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s worked for six different NASCAR organizations since 2001 including Team Penske, RFK Racing (Then Roush-Fenway Racing), Joe Gibbs Racing, RAB Racing, and Hattori Racing Enterprises before joining AM Racing this year.

He’s won two career races as an Xfinity Series crew chief, both came in 2013 with NASCAR Hall of Famer, Matt Kenseth. The first win came in the summer race at Daytona that year before winning at Kansas that fall.

Then again, Lucas is only an interim, so it’s hard to say how much of an impact he’ll truly have. Still, having a race-winning crew chief in the pit box is always a big help.

Will This Turn Deegan’s Season Around?

Something needed to change, as Hailie Deegan has not performed anywhere close to expectations this season. She has no top-10 finishes and only four top-20 finishes in 12 races. However, was the problem the driver or the crew chief?

Joe Williams has 234 races of experience atop the pit box between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series. However, he’s found the most success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He does have one win under his belt, coming with Cole Custer at Auto Club Speedway in 2022.

Williams was also Deegans’s crew chief for her first Xfinity Series start that same year. Deegan finished a solid 13th in that start.

In 2023, AM Racing went Xfinity Series racing for the first time, and Brett Moffitt was the driver. Williams and Moffitt clicked quite well as the pair recorded nine top-10s, a best finish of fourth at the Chicago Street Race, and a solid 15th-place points finish. For a new team, that’s a solid effort.

Enter Hailie Deegan. She spent the last three seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series, finishing no higher than 17th in points and recording only five top-10s in 69 races. She hasn’t won a NASCAR-sanctioned race since 2019 in the ARCA Menards Series East.

Fast forward to 2024, and Deegan is replacing Moffitt at AM Racing. Performance has dipped significantly, as Deegan fails to consistently run in the top 20 for a team that consistently finished in the top 15 with the occasional top 10 here and there.

It’s fair to ask, is the problem the crew chief, or is it the driver?

Regardless, we don’t know exactly how things were behind the scenes. It’s possible that something happened that we’re not aware of, and that may have factored into this decision.

However, from a purely statistical standpoint, it’s hard to pin everything on Joe Williams. Then again, something had to change.

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