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OBSERVATIONS: Star Nursery 100 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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“I knew it going to come down to the last lap once again….”

Hailie Deegan is currently regarded as one of the best young talents coming up in motorsports. She proved why on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track, and the fans were entertained in the process.

She showed speed throughout the Star Nursery 100 as she made moves forward, including a couple thrilling passes as she worked her way to the front. However, it appeared she’d fall short of winning for the second year in a row after moving into the runner-up position. After all, she had fallen almost five seconds behind Jagger Jones with 26 laps to go. Though nailing each lap, she continued to shave tenths of a second, bringing herself within two seconds with five laps to go.

Jones would find himself in lap traffic, and those cars would not move out of the way as the driver of the No. 6 would’ve hoped, as the bottom was the preferred line all night and where they tell lap cars to stay other places. Perhaps it was a bit of impatience, or maybe not having the knowledge of how to pinch himself underneath them, a he would get hung up on two occasions. The first would allow Deegan to close to within a couple car lengths, the second cost him the victory.

As Jones got hung up with Kenny Bumbera, a small space opened up between the tractor tire and them. Deegan would stick her nose in the hole, pushing Jones out a little (rubbing is racing, right?), and taking the lead. Although Jones tried to retaliate with the chrome horn going into turn three, it was not enough as Deegan kept it straight to the checkered flag.

To see Deegan win on a dirt track isn’t a surprise for any as she is known as a Dirt Princess, and perhaps that’s why she entered tonight with a chip on her shoulder. She felt she could have won the race last year, but ran out of laps in catching the leader. So for tonight, the attitude was simple as she said, “I wasn’t going to finish second again. I was going to win or wad it here.”

However, it marks her second win in the series following a victory last year at Meridan Speedway. It also marks her fifth straight top-seven finish on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour.

On the flip side, Jones may have been disappointed – and reasonably so as he figured he had it won, but he proved that he belongs in the series in just first start. The battle for the championship this year could be exciting as a pair of second generation racers, Deegan and Jones, go up against Derek Kraus for the title.

Kraus started off the night strong, leading the beginning stages, but his team failed to hit the set-up for the long haul. He fell back through the second half of the last run, crossing the finish line in sixth. 

Austin Reed also started off well as he won the pole via winning his heat race, but took a bit of a too aggressive approach to the event, going for a mid-race spin after making contact with Trevor Huddleston. He’d fight back for an ninth-place finish. 

Overall, the race was fun to watch. Although it started off slow with everybody running in a single-file line along the bottom, and it spread out in the end, there were some exciting moments. On top of Deegan’s last lap thriller, the final 15 laps before the competition caution at halfway saw some great racing back-and-forth between Kraus, Jones, Todd Souza, Deegan and Kody Vanderwal was worth watching. That said, it is hard to walk away from a dirt track and not be sad about missing someone sliding against the cushion. 

The season opener showed the talent these drivers are capable of, and gives us another reason to be thankful for FansChoice.tv for carrying the entire schedule free this year.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.