Kyle Wolosek celebrates with Hailie Deegan in victory lane following their win at Colorado National Speedway.
Earlier this season, Kyle Wolosek was working in his home state of Wisconsin on Super Late Models, scratching and clawing for the next opportunity.
Then, he got the call from Bill McAnally Racing general manager Kevin Bellicourt.
“At first, it was just to take care of their fourth program,” Wolosek said. “But when the opportunity came about to take care of Hailie (Deegan), I jumped on it.”
When BMR parted ways with Deegan’s crew chief, Kevin Reed Jr., Wolosek got the call up to become her crew chief for the remainder of this season, beginning at South Boston Speedway.
Finishes of 10th and 12th place in Virginia, along with a third and 15th at Tucson Speedway, did not equal the start either Deegan or Wolosek were anticipating after seeing the No. 19 Monster Toyota run inside the top five and contend for wins consistently.
“There were some growing pains from the get-go, which I think you’d expect from any crew chief/driver combination,” Wolosek said. “It was just a matter of time before I was confident in what she needed and my abilities to give her that.”
The duo hit on something in Colorado and earned its first victory together.
“Coming into it, I was blindsided a bit, to be honest,” he said. “It took a week or two before I could grasp my hands on what she needed as a driver. I think we’ve hit on some big things here; we still struggle at some of the bigger tracks, gotta go do our homework on that. But I think we’ve hit on some stuff the last few races, especially at the short track ranks — starting to put together a pretty good package.”
Since Colorado, Deegan has finishes of second at Douglas County, 11th at New Hampshire and 12th at Iowa, falling right in line with Wolosek’s assessment of where BMR slots into the K&N Pro Series landscape at the moment.
Wolosek previously worked as a mechanic on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports, so he is used to pressure in the sport.
With Deegan being the most popular driver in the series and already having become a transcendent personality and talent in NASCAR, it’s nothing new for the man steering the ship.
“There’s a lot of added pressure,” he admitted. “I don’t really let it get to me too much. It’s the racing industry. Working in the Cup level before, I’m used to high pressure-type jobs. You get a lot of extra publicity and cameras and media. Everybody’s circling around you. The best thing you can do is not let that stuff get to you. You’ve gotta deal with it accordingly, handle it to the best of your abilities and move forward.”
It’s one thing to have the popularity, but another to throw that out the window once it’s time to get to work. Wolosek raved about Deegan’s ability to click with her team members, fostering a positive work environment.
“I love working with her,” he said. “Probably one of the better people I have worked with just from a personality aspect. Definitely fun to be around, keeps the morale up of the team and she’s always striving to be better. (When) you’re down at times, things don’t go your way, you get upset, but she’s always striving to be better. She takes those problems and builds off of them. She doesn’t necessarily let them bother her for weeks on end; she takes it as more of a learning curve and takes it from there. Overall, easy to work with, a great communicator in my opinion and really has multiple things going for her within the sport.”
Deegan currently sits 16 points behind Derek Kraus for the lead in the K&N Pro Series West standings. Although the title is still the ultimate, Wolosek says the goal for him and Deegan for the remainder of the season is simple: trophy hunting.
“The championship is obviously in our head, but more so winning races, performing each week and the rest will sort itself out,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we still think big picture for the championship. But I think we both want to go out there, win races and set the bar high every week.”
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