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Female Diversity on the Rise in NASCAR

It’s been two years since Danica Patrick completed her final full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and you’ll have to look back to the 2018 Daytona 500 to find the last time a female driver competed in the premiere series. In an effort to diversify the sport, we’ve seen drivers such as Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace come through NASCAR Home Tracks, bringing along a new legion of race fans.

This is a welcoming feeling as over the last three years, NASCAR has seen many of its superstars depart from racing (namely Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and has struggled with viewership numbers.

Though as new drivers continue to impress and find their identities, the argument can be made that NASCAR could be taking a turn in the right direction. According to ESPN, the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway saw a 16% increase in viewership and ratings from last season. Concluding Fox Sports coverage of the Cup Series, ESPN also reported a 2% increase from last year.

While the progression has been minimal, these should be great signs of NASCAR’s future to come. Increasing help is on the way as two of the sport’s most promising female athletes are speeding their way through the lower series in hopes of bringing a fresh look and new talent to the Cup Series – Hailie Deegan and Brittney Zamora.

Most racing fans in general have heard of Hailie Deegan. Deegan broke on to the NASCAR racing scene in 2018, running races in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. She has made quite the name for herself with an outgoing and bubbly personality that radiates through the garage area– but don’t let this fool you. The second generation racer is the furthest thing from a push over.

In what could be considered Deegan’s current career defining moment, she turned heads this season when she spun her Bill McAnally Racing teammate, Derek Kraus, for the win on the final lap at Colorado National Speedway (see the video below). This created tons of exposure for the 17-year old driver and now the sky seems the limit for Deegan’s career in NASCAR.

In addition to having a likable and gritty attitude that racing fans gravitate to, Deegan’s stats speak for themselves. In just 31 races run between the K&N Pro Series West and East, Deegan has three wins, 10 top-fives, 19 top-10s and four poles. This may be just a small sample of what’s to come from Deegan, but one thing is for certain – she has a bright career ahead of her in NASCAR.

To find the next female athlete making her way through NASCAR’s ranks you don’t need to go far; keep your eyes on Bill McAnally Racing with Brittney Zamora.

Zamora has not quite made the waves and headlines like her BMR counterpart, but she is silently having herself quite the rookie season in both K&N Pro Series divisions. Zamora has driven her way to four top-fives, six top-10s and one pole in just 10 races in her young NASCAR career.

The 20-year old driver from Kennewick, Washington has seen immense success racing super late models in her home state as well as Oregon. Zamora was the first female athlete to ever win a race in the Northwest Super Late Model Series and won back-to-back championships in the series from 2017-2018. She was even awarded Washington State Rookie of the Year in NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series in 2018.

Most recently, Zamora found victory lane at South Sound Speedway this past weekend, racing Super Late Models in the Twin Mains 50’s.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has yet to see a female winner grace victory lane in the sport’s 71 years of competition. There’s no telling when or who will be the first female athlete to accomplish this monumental feat, but Deegan and Zamora should be seen as favorites to capture this historical achievement in NASCAR’s near future.

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

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

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Brittney Zamora

After winning the Washington NASCAR Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Brittney Zamora will take the next step of her racing career, set for the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule in 2019 with Bill McAnally Racing.

The 19-year-old Toyota Racing Development driver shared her thoughts on upcoming year and more recently with POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

BRITTNEY ZAMORA: I’m really excited for this opportunity that I’ve been wanting for several years now. I never thought it’d happen, just because I don’t have the kind of money to back me to do those opportunities. But with great sponsors, they’ve made it possible so not going to take any moment for granted and give a 110% every time I am out there.

PS: What are your goals and expectations?

Photo Courtesy of Brittney Zamora Racing

BRITTNEY: This has been a tough question for me. Everybody wants to go out to win the championship and every race they compete in. But obviously, that’s unrealistic as you can’t win every race; that’s just not how it goes in racing sometimes. But I feel it’s hard to set my expectations. I haven’t raced with this team before, these cars, and there’s several new tracks that I will be going to.

As far as expectations and goals, I just want to be able to lead laps and be competitive and the more laps you lead, the more wins will come your way. As far as expectations, I want to be a sponge this year. I want to be adaptive and absorb up all the new information and the experiences that I get to learn from. If I can be quick at learning at each track I go to, it should be a good year for us.

PS: What track are you looking forward to the most?

BRITTNEY: There’s a few. I really like Irwindale, so I’m looking forward to that track. Up here in the northwest, my home track last year Evergreen, I feel we’ll be pretty decent there. But then you get to the tracks in the midwest like Bristol, Iowa, Gateway, New Hampshire – those are all fun tracks, and then you get to end the year at Phoenix. So I don’t know.

I know you said the one track that I am looking forward to, but there’s several. The whole season has a lot of good tracks in the line-up.

PS: You’re going to have a pair of great teammates in Hailie (Deegan) and Derek (Kraus). What are your thoughts on working with them?

BRITTNEY: It should be a good season. We’re all around the same age, and we’re all here because we love racing so it should be a good year to be able to learn off each other. Hopefully it will be a good season for all three of us.

PS: Speaking of Hailie, there’s been a lot of talk about of woman in motorsports. What does it to you to be a role model to a lot of young ladies out there?

BRITTNEY: It’s a really cool position I’m being putting in this year. I’ve raced for the past 15 years and I’ve always kind of been one of the very few girls in the midwest for the up-and-coming drivers to admire and to learn off of. Now that you’re getting into the higher NASCAR series, your platform gets bigger and bigger.

Photo Courtesy of NW Motorsports News Service

My role for that is to go out there and do what I love; go out there and win and show that it really doesn’t matter, boy or girl, you can go out there and do whatever sport you want. So if they’re looking for inspiration to gout there and race against all the guys, that’s great; but if they can use what I am doing on the race track to help them pursue their dreams, whether racing or another sport, that’s a really cool spot for me to be  in and I hope to do that for them.

PS: How did you get your start in racing?

BRITTNEY: My dad actually raced for about 20 years and I just followed in his footsteps. I went to the race track when I was four days old and ever since, I’ve been hooked. I’ve been at the race track my entire life. It was kind of just the direction that felt right for me. When I was four-years-old, I got into a go-kart and ever since, racing has been my passion.

PS: What’s been the most memorable moment of your racing career to date?

BRITTNEY: I’ve been asked this question a few times, and there’s two moments in my racing career that stand out for me. My first super late model win – that was huge for my team and I. It was during my second year of super late models and we’d been close several times before that and we finally got the win, and it was pretty cool because it was on father’s day. It was kind of cool to do that for my dad and my team.

So it’s between that moment, and also getting my championship this year for the second year in a row. It kind of solidifies and proves that we earned our championship last year, and it was neat to come back and do it again.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

BRITTNEY: That’s definitely dad. I know a lot of people have their NASCAR drivers that are their heroes, but throughout my racing career and growing up, my dad was the one I always looked up. He was my favorite driver ever and being able to learn off of him, and then come home and work on the car together, then seeing my dad race, and then him coming to my races – we’ve been super close all the time throughout racing. Getting to progress up the ranks with my dad by my side is cool for myself.

PS: We’ve seen a lot of drivers running different cars and series recently. What is a series/type of car that is on your bucket list to one day try?

BRITTNEY: I don’t know. I’ve always looked forward to driving the K&N car. With the opportunity in this car, hopefully I can prove myself and keep working my way up. This year has been a huge step for myself in going in that right direction. I don’t know – I think it’d be cool to drive a Cup car. Those are what everybody looks forward to, and if you ask any driver, their goal is to make it to the Cup Series.

That’s when you know when you made it – when you’re in the Cup Series. So to be able to hop in that car and take it for a few laps and get the experience, that’d probably be the one on my bucket list.

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.