Parker Kligerman: ‘Encouraging to Have Days Like Today’

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

DARLINGTON, S.C. – In his 100th career start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Parker Kligerman had one of his best oval races of the season.

With practice and qualifying washed out, the Big Machine Racing driver started 11th. Despite the lack of practice, Kligerman quickly started moving forward. Outside of a strategy call early in the final stage of the Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200, he remained inside the top-10 throughout the race.

Parker kligerman scored a top-10 finish in his 100th career start in the nascar xfinity series.
Parker Kligerman. (Photo by Matt Thacker/Nigel Kinrade Photography)

While he remained inside the top-10, Kligerman did lose ground on pit road at Darlington Raceway. The difference in the number of lug nuts and the pit crew’s rhythm that goes with that cost the 33-year-old track position under each caution. Although the speed of the car made up some of that difference.

“I mean it’s really encouraging to have a day like today,” Kligerman said. “That’s the best car I’ve ever had at Big Machine Racing, and I know they’ve worked really hard on this. I just loved that, that showed what we’re capable of, right? And that first stage and the second stage was like every lap, every 10 laps, I just got faster compared to field.

“I could run the high lane and (Turns) 1 and 2 I could run the bottom and (Turns) 3 and 4 I could make time and do what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, we had some hiccups in the pits. That’s been the course of our season or a year and a half for us. We’re working on it. It’s a tough game in this deal when the Cup series isn’t five lugs anymore. So having a 5-lug crew is a really, really tough deal.

“There are eight or 10 cars in front of us that have really top (pit crews). We’ve got to keep improving and try to up our game there because we got up in the top three and then we just kept giving away track position and we got all way back. But this easily should have been top three or fighting for the seven for the win.” 

The run that the Westport, CT native had was reminiscent of his race in the Xfinity playoffs last year at Kansas Speedway. In both races Kligerman scored stage points and was in contention for the win. At Kansas he finished fourth, at ‘The Track Too Tough to Tame,’ he finished sixth.

“Having a car like this reminds me of a car at Kansas last year, a little bit better,” Kligerman recalled. “This is a new car, that was a new car. It’s like we keep improving things and that sort of stuff. This is what it’s all about with a team that’s young and improving and we’re going up against a lot of established powerhouses and we have an affiliation, but we’ve got to go and put it all together. Today we showed we’re capable of doing that speed wise and if we execute just a little bit better, I think that we we’re out there doing burnouts.” 

The strategy call by crew chief Patrick Donahue saw the No. 48 Spiked Lite Coolers Throwback Chevrolet Camaro SS pit for four tires under caution five laps into the final stage. While the difference in the age of tires was minimal, Kligerman surged through the field. The journeyman driver climbed from 25th to sixth before the final caution of the race waved.

“I know I had a little tire advantage and it seemed really good,” Kligerman explained. “I don’t know what the lap times looked like compared to him, in terms of speed and if you would have like a fall off. I can’t exactly say, but I mean we were mowing them down. I think we went from 25th to sixth in like 10 laps, which I did in a truck race here a couple years ago and it felt very much the same.

“On that day, I thought I had a chance to win. I think I won a stage that day. I love this place. I love those times. You have a little bit of a great car like this and everyone at Big Machine Racing did an awesome job.”

Parker kligerman scored a top-10 finish in his 100th career start in the nascar xfinity series.
Parker Kligerman. (Photo by Matt Thacker/Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Another area that Kligerman felt like he excelled in was his tire management. Although ‘The Lady in Black,’ is known for tire wear, he pointed to Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond Raceway where he ran well, both tracks that also experience a lot of fall off in lap time over the course of a green flag run.

“We ran really well (at Homestead) last year,” Kligerman said. “Top five, I think at points and top easily seventh place cars out that day. I love these places with the tire falls off, I don’t think you know it’s if you look at historically lap times, I’m built for 100 lap runs and. It’s just what I’m most comfortable at and what I really excel at, and I’ve worked at that hard. These tire fall off places, Richmond, we ran really well. I just it really is in my wheelhouse and I think this bodes really well for them.” 

Kligerman finished the first two stages in fifth and third respectively. That netted him an additional 14 points. Those stage points increased his gap over the playoff cutline.

The sixth-place finish was Kligerman’s fourth top-10 of the season and the 42nd top-10 of his Xfinity Series career.

The top-10 finish moved Kligerman into a tie for eighth in points with Sheldon Creed. He is 124-points behind leader Austin Hill and 42-points ahead of the playoff cutline, currently held by Brandon Jones.

Next for Kligerman is the BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In four Xfinity starts at Charlotte, he has two top-10 finishes, both during his 2013 season with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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