The planting calendar for the first week of June in Iowa suggests planting seeds that need warmer soil, including corn, squash, cucumbers, green beans and melons. Parker Kligerman is hoping to add checkered flags to that list after Saturday's DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
After collecting his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last October, Kligerman planted the checkered flag in the infield grass as part of his victory celebration, signifying that he had conquered the track. The 22-year-old driver has been continuing to improve each and every week in his first full-time campaign in the Nationwide Series and as he descends upon Iowa this weekend with his No. 77 Toyota Racing team, he is confident that this could be the day that he is able to plant his mark as a winner in NASCAR's second division.
The last time that the Connecticut native visited the .875-mile oval nestled in the confluent cornfields of Central Iowa, he captured the pole with a new Truck Series track record and led a race-high 107 laps, but was relegated to a 23rd-place finish after blowing a right front tire late in the race. Although his last visit didn't end as anticipated, the talented youngster was able to register two top-10 finishes at the "Hawkeye State" track last season, a 10th-place finish in the July truck race last year and an eighth-place finish in the Nationwide Series race last May.
Kligerman enters this weekend's 250-lap event coming off an 11th-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. He has now finished inside the top 15 in seven straight races and nine of 11 events this season and enters this weekend sixth in the championship point standings. His 276 points earned over the last seven races are second to only point's leader Regan Smith's 308 over that span.
With confidence heading to Iowa - from a consistent seven-race stretch this season and a knowledge of how to find speed on the Rusty Wallace-designed track - and only one Sprint Cup Series regular entered in the field, the timing is right for Kligerman to plant his mark on the Nationwide Series and prove he is one of the most talented drivers amongst the crop of young talent in NASCAR's feeder divisions.