MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Parker Kligerman comes into Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth riding the momentum of back-to-back top-10 finishes, including a series-best fourth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. the last time that the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) was in action. Now in search of his first NNS victory, Kligerman will be bringing extra horsepower to the 1.5-mile oval. That horsepower will not be found under the hood, rather on the hood, where his No. 77 Camry will be adorned with the logo of 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.
Camp Horsin’ Around proved to be a lucky charm for Kligerman last season. The first time that the non-profit appeared on the hood of his No. 7 Tundra was at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where the Connecticut native galloped to his first career Truck Series victory. The Kentucky charity returned for three more races in 2012, producing two more top-10 finishes, including a runner-up result in the Truck Series race at Texas last November. The No. 77 Camry will also have its other lucky charm onboard this weekend, co-primary sponsor Bandit Chippers, who have been a part of two of the team’s three top-10 finishes this season.
The timing may be just right for another milestone in the young driver’s career Friday night at Texas. The first-year Nationwide Series regular has produced several strong runs in his Truck Series starts at the Lone Star State and considers it among his favorite tracks. In five starts there in NASCAR’s third division he has registered four top-10 results, including runner-up finishes in his first visit (June of 2010) as well as his most recent visit (Nov. 2012). Last November, Kligerman nearly picked up his second career Truck Series victory as he found himself at the front of the field in the closing laps before being passed by eventual winner Johnny Sauter with 11 laps remaining.
Kligerman will be bringing a strong pony to Friday night’s race, in the form of chassis KBM-008, a Camry that collected three top-three finishes in five 2012 starts. It is the same Toyota that KBM owner Kyle Busch captured the pole with in last November’s NNS race and went on to lead 65 laps before coming home with a fourth-place finish. The chassis has seen action once already this season, with Kligerman running inside the top 10 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway before a parts failure sent the talented youngster to the garage for several laps and relegated the No. 77 bunch to a season-worst 30th-place finish.
In their first full-season in the Nationwide Series, both Kligerman and crew chief Eric Phillips preached a need for consistency over the first five races. With two top-five finishes under their belt, the duo has proven capable of producing the speed to run up front. Beginning this weekend, the next step is to continue to run in the top five and put themselves in a position to compete for wins on a regular basis. The goal is to show other teams in the series that the No. 77 camp is no longer horsin’ around.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:
After two weeks off are you ready to head to Texas? “This whole No. 77 team has a lot of momentum from the success we’ve had over the first five races of the season, especially the run we had at California. It’s been a refreshing two weeks off for everyone — now we are ready to go to Texas and tackle bringing home that cowboy hat. From the first time I went to Texas, I’ve had a lot of success there. I enjoy the racetrack at Texas and really enjoy the state and its atmosphere. But most of all, that cowboy hat is a really special trophy that you can’t get anywhere else and I really want to win one of those.”
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:
You’ve showed a lot of speed the first five races; have your goals for this team changed any? “We still want to be consistent every week and keep taking steps to get better. We’ve ran well in most of the races, we just had a few parts issues that hampered us. We identified what the issues were and we’ve taken steps to ensure that they don’t happen again. I think that our goal right now is to try and run consistently in the top five. If we can do that, eventually if you start running up front enough you’ll find yourself in a position to win a race.”
Parker Kligerman’s No. 77 Toyota Camry:
KBM-008: KBM-008 will make its second start of the 2013 season in Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). The last time it raced, Kligerman was running inside the top 10 when a parts failure resulted in a 30th-place finish. The Camry raced five times in 2012, posting top-three finishes in each of its final four starts. It is the same Toyota that Kyle Busch captured the pole, led 65 laps and finished third with in last November’s race at TMS.