NASCAR Truck Series: 5 possible first-time winners in 2021

Zane Smith, GMS Racing, and Grant Enfinger, ThorSport Racing, NASCAR - Phoenix Raceway 2020 NASCAR Championship
Zane Smith, GMS Racing, and Grant Enfinger, ThorSport Racing, NASCAR - Phoenix Raceway 2020 NASCAR Championship /
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Hailie Deegan, David Gilliland Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Possible 2021 first-time winners: Hailie Deegan

After finishing in third place in the championship standings in her lone full-time season in the ARCA Menards Series and winning the Rookie of the Year award, Hailie Deegan was promoted to the Truck Series by David Gilliland Racing. She is set to pilot the #1 Ford.

Deegan went winless in ARCA last year, so what will change for her to win in her rookie Truck Series season?

For starters, she has full-time teammate Tanner Gray in the David Gilliland Racing camp. In his rookie season, Gray notched four top five finishes and eight top 10 finishes, with a career-best finish of third place in three different races.

Having Gray as a teammate will be an asset to Deegan, as they can share information, communicate how their respective vehicles are handling and improve their driving at the various race tracks.

Deegan also has experience atop her #1 pit box. Two-time Truck Series championship-winning crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. is set to call the shots for her. His knowledge, experience and success bode well for Deegan, as likely only a few races will have practice and qualifying sessions this season.

Where then will Deegan be a contender? Although she finished in second place in the 2020 ARCA season opener at Daytona International Speedway, it is specifically worth noting that she has demonstrated her talent on dirt tracks.

Last year, in the lone ARCA dirt race at Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack, she finished in second place. Previously, she won the 2019 ARCA season opener at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. The Bristol Motor Speedway dirt course and Knoxville Raceway are both new venues for the Truck Series, and Deegan will showcase her talents in those two races.

Another track where Deegan has performed well is Kansas Speedway. She debuted in the Truck Series at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval. In three ARCA starts there, she has three top 10 finishes, with a best finish of sixth place in the 2020 ARCA season finale.

In her Truck Series debut, Deegan started in 34th place and finished in 16th, one lap off the lead lap. Kansas Speedway is scheduled to host the seventh race of the Truck Series season. With a little more experience and confidence driving her #1 Ford, coupled with knowledge of the track, Deegan could win in Kansas City, Kansas.

David Gilliland Racing went winless last year as DGR-Crosley. This year, the organization is fielding Gray and Deegan full-time, and Taylor Gray is set to compete in seven races as well. This team seeks a Truck Series victory, and Deegan wants her truck number to resemble her finishing position.