NASCAR team replaces struggling full-time driver for Chicago race

Joey Logano is set to replace Hailie Deegan in this Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Chicago Street Course.
Hailie Deegan, AM Racing, NASCAR Xfinity Series
Hailie Deegan, AM Racing, NASCAR Xfinity Series / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

AM Racing have called upon two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano to drive the No. 15 Ford in this Saturday afternoon's Xfinity Series race at the Chicago Street Course. Logano is set to replace full-time driver Hailie Deegan.

Last year, drivers were only allowed to compete in one race at the 12-turn, 2.2-mile (3.541-kilometer) temporary street course in Chicago, Illinois, as NASCAR did not want anybody to have the advantage of experience at the brand-new circuit ahead of the first ever street race weekend in the history of the sport.

But this year, driving double duty is allowed, and before he drives the No. 22 Team Penske Ford in Sunday's 75-lap Grant Park 165, the winner of Sunday's Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway is set to compete in Saturday's 50-lap The Loop 110.

The team have reportedly made the surprising driver change "to help provide feedback that the team can use to improve on-track competition as the sport heads into the second half of the season".

Hailie Deegan benched for Chicago race

Though there was the ongoing narrative entering the season that Deegan would perform at a higher level in the Xfinity Series than the Truck Series since supposedly the cars would better suit her driving style, she has struggled, recording just four top 20 finishes in the season's first 17 races.

Her top finish of 12th place came at Talladega Superspeedway back in April, and she sits in 27th in the point standings. She even trails a driver who has made just five starts (Aric Almirola), and it took her until two weeks ago to pass another driver who has made only six starts (Ryan Truex).

In three full Truck Series seasons, Deegan failed to finish a race in the top five and recorded just five top 10 finishes. Her top finish in the point standings was 17th place.

Last year, AM Racing competed full-time in the Xfinity Series with Brett Moffitt, who recorded nine top 10 finishes and finished in 17th place in the point standings. Given the fact that his season-best finish of fourth place came in Chicago, the team's potential this weekend justified the decision to have Logano fill in for Deegan.

Logano finished in eighth place in last year's Cup Series race in Chicago. He has not competed in an Xfinity Series race since 2019.

Additionally, there are 43 cars on the entry list for Saturday's race, and only 38 will successfully qualify. The No. 15 team sits in 34th place in the owner standings, and Deegan's qualifying efforts on road courses this season include 35th at Circuit of the Americas, 38th at Portland International Raceway, and 37th at Sonoma Raceway.

Had they left her in the car, the No. 15 Ford probably would have been one of the favorites to miss the race.

Deegan will not be granted a playoff waiver for missing this weekend's race, though it is believed that she will be back for the following weekend's race at Pocono Raceway.

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Tune in to NBC at 3:30 p.m. ET this Saturday, July 6 for the live broadcast of The Loop 110 from the Chicago Street Course. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss any of the action!