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Why Was Hailie Deegan Replaced This Week?

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What’s Happening?

On Monday, AM Racing shockingly announced that Hailie Deegan would not compete for the team this weekend on the Streets of Chicago. Joey Logano would take her place. Why would the team make such a drastic move?

  • Hailie Deegan has notedly struggled this year, particularly on road courses. While that played a role in the move, it’s rare for a team to bench a full-time driver even for just one race. Is there more to the story?
  • When AM Racing first announced the news, Team President Wade Moore admitted that the team was not meeting expectations. He said the team hopes to use what they learn this weekend to improve as the season enters its second half.
  • Fans were a bit taken aback by the move. However, they generally thought the move made some sense, especially given Deegan’s struggles.

Why This Move?

Based on Moore’s statement, this is performance-related. Simply put, the race team has not performed as well as expected.

…We haven’t had the success on track that we were hoping for in the first half of the season. When the opportunity to have Joey in the car at Chicago became a possibility, we felt we needed to take advantage of the knowledge and feedback that a two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion could provide to our teams’ growth...

Wade Moore

AM Racing has completely bottomed out this season after a promising 2023 season with Brett Moffitt. Here is a comparison of where the team is in 2024 with Deegan versus Moffitt one year ago (17 races in).

DriverWinsTop-5sTop-10sTop-20sAvg. FinishAvg. StartLaps LedDNFsPoints Position
Brett Moffitt0141215.716.920114th
Hailie Deegan000426.829.00328th

The team, crew chief, cars, and equipment were all the same heading into 2024. There’s one big difference, Hailie Deegan, the driver. The team tried to help her by bringing in Matt Lucas to be her crew chief, but she hasn’t finished better than 25th in those five races, with three finishes outside the top 30.

Making the switch to a Cup Series Champion makes sense from a performance standpoint, but why now? Why did AM Racing wait until the Chicago Street Race to make such a drastic change?

Why Now?

According to Moore’s statement, some of it is where they are in the season. With 17 races in the books, the season is just over halfway done, meaning this is the perfect time to regroup and make bigger goals.

We intend to take the feedback and data from the Chicago race weekend and apply it to building better race cars each week so AM Racing can have a stronger second half of the season.

Wade Moore

However, there is also be a deeper reason why they picked this specific race, the Chicago Street Race. The Street Race has 43 entries for 38 spots, and Deegan has not qualified well on road courses this season, starting 35th or worse in all three road course races. This means Deegan had to rely on owner’s points to get into all three Xfinity Series road course races this season, as spots 1-33 are determined by speed, and the final five spots are reserved for the top four cars in owner’s points not already qualified plus a past-Champion’s provisional.

If something goes wrong in qualifying, it is very possible that Deegan could miss the field as she sits 34th in Owner’s points. Given that she barely made the field at Portland and Sonoma, AM Racing would be wise to put someone in the car who likely has more raw speed. Bob Pockrass even mentioned how this played a role in the decision.

Overall, Deegan’s poor performance is why AM Racing is not fielding her this weekend. Time will tell whether or not she can take advantage of what she and the team learn from Logano.

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