After qualifying fifth and running inside the top 10 for the majority of the Indiana 250 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway (IMS), Parker Kligerman appeared to be in position for a strong finish late in the race, until he was ran into from behind, knocked loose and then when things got three-wide ended up pinned against the outside wall. With damage to the front fenders of his No. 77 Toyota, the talented youngster was forced to visit pit road. After getting four tires, fuel and quick repairs to the fenders of his Camry, the Connecticut native restarted 21st with just six laps remaining. He was able to pick up three spots in the closing laps, but came home with a disappointing 18th-place finish in his first career start at the historic speedway.
“We ran in the top 10 all day and with the 12, 31 and 7 having a tough day were in line for a good points day, until we got hit from behind — not once, but twice — and then put in the outside wall,” said Kligerman, who in 2008 lived one block from IMS and was a frequent visitor to the famed track. “It was an honor to finally race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and really cool – even if it didn’t last long — to at one point hold the track record in qualifying. I’m proud of Eric Phillips (crew chief) and all the guys and we’re ready to get back at it next week at Iowa.”
After the green flag dropped, Kligerman quickly reported that his Camry was “tight center and off,” as he dropped three spots by the time 10 laps had been completed. As the run continued, he fell back to the 13th spot before making his first stop of the day – for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment – under green-flag conditions on lap 30.When stops had cycled through, he remained in the 13th spot.
As the race progressed, the talented youngster reported that his No. 77 Toyota was “loose in traffic.” He was scored in the 12th position when debris brought out the first caution of the day. Phillips summoned his driver to pit road, where the Kyle Busch Motorsports over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop, with another track bar adjustment, and returned their driver to the track scored in the 13th spot.
Several teams not electing to pit under caution were forced to pit road about 10 laps later, which allowed the No. 77 team to advance to the seventh spot when the second caution of the race occurred for fluid on the track on lap 66. As the teams that didn’t pit under green prepared for their next stop, Kligerman communicated to Phillips that he needed more stability on entry. When pit road opened, KBM’s Nationwide Series entry got right side tires and a full load of fuel for the final stages of the race.
Kligerman took the lap-70 restart from the 10th spot, but lost a couple positions on the restart and was scored in the 12th position when a debris caution occurred on lap 84. While a few teams elected to pit, Phillips kept his young driver on the track and the No. 77 Camry took the lap-88 restart from the ninth spot.
With the end of the race approaching, drivers became more aggressive and Kligerman became a victim on lap 89, when the No. 6 car gave him two shots to the rear bumper to get him loose and then as the No. 5 car made things three-wide, the No. 77 Camry was pinned against the outside wall. A debris caution ensued and with visible damage, Phillips summoned his driver to pit road.
After pulling out the fenders and replacing all four tires, Kligerman returned to the track in the 21st position for the final restart on lap 89. Within two laps he had advanced up to 16th, but surrendered two spots over the final three laps dropped back to the 18th spot as the field took the checkered flag.
KBM owner Kyle Busch led 92 of the 100 laps en route to his eighth victory of 2013 in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry. It was his Nationwide Series-record 59th win and his 117th victory across NASCAR’s top three divisions. Brian Scott finished 2.141 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot. Joey Logano finished third, Brian Vickers fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were four caution periods totaling 18 laps. Four drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead six times. Nine drivers failed to finish the 100-lap event.
Kligerman sits 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 19 of 33 races complete, 67 points behind new series points leader Austin Dillon. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 entry ranks 12th in the owner’s championship standings, 176 points behind the series-leading No. 54 team.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Iowa Speedway in Newton for the US Cellular 250 on Aug. 3. Live television coverage of Saturday’s 250-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
-Kyle Busch Motorsports PR