By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – One year removed from failing to qualify for the Next Era Energy 200 at Daytona International Speedway, Parker Kligerman narrowly made the race and scored a top-five finish.
Using the same No. 75 Food Country USA Chevrolet Silverado from last year, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver secured the final spot on speed in qualifying. The truck had been bought from a different team and drafted well at Talladega Superspeedway until Kligerman was swept up in the big one.
Fast forward to the 2022 season opener, Kligerman squeaked by the big-one coming to the white flag. After emerging from the smoke unscathed, the Henderson Motorsports driver found himself lined up fourth in overtime.
Kligerman linked up with second-place Zane Smith. The duo tandemmed forward, sweeping by the leading ThorSport Racing trucks. Smith moved down to cover them, leaving Kligerman to fall back. Just as the NASCAR on NBC pit reporter regained momentum, the caution waved. With the field already taking the white flag, the race was official. Timing and scoring left Kligerman fifth.
“It’s huge (finishing in the top-five),” Kligerman explained. “I know that you’ve heard me say it like a broken record that we’re a one-man band with Chris Carrier and Henderson Motorsports. I’m so grateful to go out there and compete for top-fives for Food Country USA. They give us the ability to go out there and run these races. The Henderson family puts so much into this and then ask me to come drive.
“It’s amazing in this day and age. I’ve been part-time for what, eight years now? I still have the opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Don’t know if I can put it into words.”
While Talladega marks the place of Kligerman’s two Truck Series victories, superspeedway racing has been hit and miss. The Westport, CT native’s knack for the drafting package dates back to his days testing for Team Penske at the proving grounds. However, with the high attrition of recent years, Kligerman’s perspective of superspeedway racing has changed. While skilled at the style, he’s soured on it.
“I’ve actually been getting a little sour to (this style of racing),” admitted Kligerman. “There’s been a lot of blocking, really weird moves. Kudos to the Truck Series. What a cool, clean race until that wreck there. I just thought that was a really impressive race by everyone in this series. The trucks were not handling well, everyone was sliding around. That was awesome. I can’t explain how odd it is that I’ve been part-time for eight years, 31-years-old, no family money, sponsors, and yet I get to show up and run top-five.”
The racer and journalist has balanced his two jobs within NASCAR and the motorsports industry, often joking that he has the strangest combination of jobs. With Daytona marking Kligerman’s 99th career start in the Truck Series, the rest of 2022, as he confirmed to Kickin’ the Tires earlier this week, is a similar 10-12 race schedule with Henderson.
“Nights like tonight make it all worth it,” reflected Kligerman. “It’s not always a lucrative affair, but this is something that’s a passion of mine. I want to do this until they take the wheel from me, and I can no longer hobble into that damn truck. As long as the Henderson family will have me, I’ll be here.”
In 99 Truck Series starts, the fifth-place finish for Kligerman at Daytona was his 20th career top-five finish. It also marked his 45th top-10.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.