By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Parker Kligerman survived multiple late restarts and overtime to earn his second Monday Night Racing presented by Tufco Flooring victory of the season.
Battle for the Lead
The driver of the virtual No. 77 Valvoline Toyota Tundra took the lead from last week’s winner, Nick Sanchez, on a restart with seven laps to go in the scheduled distance. Kligerman then held off charges from Anthony Alfredo, TJ Majors, Preston Pardus, and Gabriel Wood. The NASCAR on NBC pit road reporter kept his truck along the outside wall to maintain momentum.
Sanchez got squeezed into the outside guardrail at the virtual Knoxville Raceway by Pardus as the Kligerman Sport driver took the lead. The Rev Racing driver again got squeezed into the wall by Majors. However, when the Door Bumper Clear host hit the wall, his virtual No. 15 Ford F-150 got launched skyward. The incident ended Majors’ Tufco Dirt Derby early.
In overtime, Alfredo drove his virtual No. 33 Whitetail Smokeless Dip Chevrolet Silverado deep on the inside of the track. The NASCAR Xfinity Series driver attempted to slide-job his way by the Kligerman. A lack of grip on the inside kept Alfredo at bay as the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series team owner took the checkered flag. In the first victory for the recently rebranded Kligerman Sport, the team owner was 0.595 seconds ahead of Alfredo.
“I can count on one hand how many times I’ve done that (raced a truck on dirt on iRacing),” admitted Kligerman. “That was my first race at Knoxville, and it was a lot of fun. You slide so much and have to be so methodical with the pedal, watch the track as it changes. I was really worried, me not knowing dirt that the bottom was going to be dominant the whole time. Then when the top came in you’re ripping the top and it’s so much fun.
“That’s dirt racing, you’ve got to be versatile. I’ve done both in practice and even though the top wasn’t fast in practice, I just kind of ran it on purpose to figure it out. When it shifted up there, I thought, ‘okay, I can move up, I know what to do,’ and it worked out. It is not easy, you’ve got to do a completely different driving style around the bottom or the top, but somehow, they run similar lap times.
“I thought it was the most fun in the middle of the race when I was running up there with Nick Sanchez and Preston Pardus. It was a lot of fun.”
First win for @KligermanSport !
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) December 22, 2020
Wood, Pardus, and a sponsor-less-Will Rodgers completed the top-five. Both Wood and Rodgers had to race their way in through the consolation race and started in the rear of the field. While Rodgers was the hard charger of the race, gaining the most positions, 22, Wood was the Tufco driver of the race. The JD Motorsports crew member passed the most trucks throughout the night after he was wrecked in his heat, and started in the rear twice, once in the consolation race and the feature.
NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley, Gary Sexton, Nick DeGroot, Ford Martin, and Kyle McFadden rounded out the top-10. Other notable finishers included Josh Bilicki in 11th Ron Capps 13th, Chad Reed 15th, and Conor Daly 20th. Kyle Busch, Sanchez, Majors, and Stefan Wilson all finished out of the race, taking 24th through 27th respectively.
The biggest incident of the night took place with 11 laps to go in the scheduled distance. NTT IndyCar Series driver Wilson attempted a slide job on Podium eSports’ Sexton. Wilson’s inexperience on dirt sent him across Sexton’s nose wiping both drivers out. Sexton continued while Wilson was black-flagged.
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series driver Busch received terminal damage in the wreck. The Camping World Truck Series team owner attempted to continue in his virtual No. 51 Big Machine Hand Sanitizer Toyota Tundra, however his engine expired shortly after the ensuing restart.
1. Parker Kligerman , 2. Anthony Alfredo , 3. Gabriel Wood , 4. Preston Pardus , 5. Will Rodgers , 6. Garrett Smithley , 7. Gary Sexton , 8. Nick DeGroot , 9. Ford Martin , 10. Kyle McFadden , 11. Josh Bilicki , 12. Maxwell Kennon , 13. Ron Capps , 14. Devon Henry , 15. Chad Reed , 16. Steven Ellis , 17. DJ Cummings , 18. Matthew Stallknecht , 19. Roger Diebold , 20. Conor Daly , 21. Josh Slate , 22. Brandon Brown , 23. Covy Moore , 24. Kyle Busch , 25. Nick Sanchez , 26. TJ Majors , 27. Stefan Wilson .
Lead Changes: Four among three drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Parker Kligerman 1-13, TJ Majors 14, Parker Kligerman 15, Nick Sanchez 16-43, Parker Kligerman 44-54.
Laps Led: Nick Sanchez 28, Parker Kligerman 25, TJ Majors 1.
Hard Charger: Will Rodgers (+22).
Tough Break: TJ Majors (-24).
Cautions: Five for 17 laps.
Margin of Victory: 0.595 seconds.
Time of Race: 26 minutes, 18.729 seconds.
Average Speed: 61.569 MPH.
Fastest Qualifier: Preston Pardus, 22.565 seconds (79.770 MPH).
Fastest Lap: Parker Kligerman, Lap 2, 22.677 seconds (79.376 MPH).
Photo by Seth Eggert / Kickin’ the Tires