MOORESVILLE, N.C. – After earning his first NASCAR win in last year’s Camping World Truck Series event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Parker Kligerman planted the checkered flag in the infield grass to symbolize that he had conquered the 2.66-mile Tri-oval. The 22-year-old driver returns to the historic Alabama track for the first time since his milestone win, this time driving the No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around/ Bandit Chippers Camry in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron 312, ready to conquer the largest oval arena on the circuit at the next level.
Kligerman, who overcame a slow start in last week’s ToyotaCare 250 to post a solid 11th-place finish, has registered five finishes of 12th or better in the first seven races of his first full-time season in the Nationwide Series. The Connecticut native enters this weekend’s event sitting eighth in the Nationwide Series championship standings, a mere five points behind fifth-place Elliott Sadler and just 40 points behind series leader Sam Hornish Jr.
The No. 77 Toyota team sees this weekend’s race as an opportunity to move up the standings, given the history of success of its primary chassis for this weekend’s 117-lap event. Kligerman qualified third with KBM-10 for this year’s season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and led 10 laps late in the race before settling for a fifth-place finish. The Camry is also the same car that Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch led 36 laps with in last year’s Nationwide Series event at Talladega and had the victory in his grasp before being succumbed by a slingshot pass from Joey Logano coming to the stripe.
As he did for last year’s Truck Series win, Kligerman will have Camp Horsin’ Around – a non-profit camp facility in Kentucky specifically designed and equipped to enrich the lives of children with serious, chronic illness and physical difficulties – adorning the hood of his Toyota. After last year’s historic occasion, the horse that encompassed the non-profit’s logo on the hood was aptly named “Victory.” The talented youngster and his new team are hoping that “Victory” can conquer Talladega once again on Saturday and help them gallop their way up the point standings.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:
What will it be like to drive into Talladega for the first time since last year’s Truck Series victory? “It will be a euphoric moment in a lot of ways and sort of a comforting feeling — knowing that you’ve won there before and you already know what it takes to win there. Superspeedway racing is its own special form of racing, but I’ve been able to be successful at it — winning in the trucks and having a fifth-place finish this year in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona. We are bringing the same car that we raced at Daytona, so I’m pretty optimistic that we can go out there and put this No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around/Bandit Chippers Camry up front Saturday and hopefully we can end the day in victory lane.”
What does it take to win at a superspeedway? “Winning at a superspeedway takes a lot of preparation leading up to the race, from both the team and the driver. It’s a lot of what the team does at the shop with the race car before you get to the track. Once you’re at the track, there isn’t a lot that you can do in terms of adjustments to find speed – for the most part you have what you unload with. I know a lot of people believe that it doesn’t take a lot of driving talent per se, because you are wide open all the time, but it definitely takes an understanding of the strategic element. You have to understand the draft and how the air moves around the cars. You have to do your homework and learn where to put yourself towards the end of the race. Then, you have to use all of that to put yourself in the position coming out of the tri-oval on the last lap.”
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:
You overcame a lot of obstacles last weekend to post a solid finish, what does that say about this team? “It says that we have a strong group of people. We had a little bit of adversity a couple times through the weekend and everybody just kept digging and we never gave up. It’s a long season and these are long races, if you just keep fighting every week you will prevail.”
You are bringing the same car that finished fifth at Daytona. Are you expecting another strong run? “We had a little damage from that last-lap crash at Daytona, but nothing big, so the car should be back really close to what it was. Staying out of trouble and managing the race is always a big part of being able to finish well at these superspeedway races and Parker has proven that he can do that — he won the Talladega truck race last year and he had a strong run for us at Daytona. We expect to have another strong run this weekend.”
Parker Kligerman’s No. 77 Toyota Camry:
KBM-10: KBM-10 will make its second start of 2013 in this weekend’s Aaron’s 312 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Kligerman qualified third, led 10 laps and finished fifth with the Camry at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February. Kyle Busch led 36 laps and finished second with the Toyota in its debut at Talladega last May. The car has led at least one lap in all three of its career starts and has posted two top-five finishes.