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Mar 13, 2013 - 06:14 AM
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2013 Bristol: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Mar 13, 2013 - 06:12 AM
2013 Bristol: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview

Parker Kligerman and his No. 77 Bandit Chippers Racing team are northwestbound and down as they head to the Smoky Mountains for Saturday's Jeff Foxworthy Grit Chips 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.


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The Bandit's goal in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit was to assist his partner Cledus in outrunning Sheriff Buford T. Justice and deliver 400 cases of beer from Texarkana, Texas to Georgia in 28 hours. Kligerman, with the assistance of crew chief Eric Phillips, will set his sights on outrunning 39 other drivers over the course of 200 laps and deliver the trophy atop the media center at "The World's Fastest Half Mile" to the display case inside Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).

This weekend's arena should provide the talented youngster with ample opportunity for success, as he has finished inside the top 10 in all four of his career starts at the high-banked oval, including a runner-up finish in last year's Camping World Truck Series race. Bristol is also the venue where he earned his first Nationwide Series top 10, driving from the 43rd position to a ninth-place result in the August race in 2010.

After running into road blocks the past two weeks, Kligerman and his Bandit Chippers Racing team will be in hot pursuit of a strong finish Saturday at the high-banked half-mile oval nestled in the Smoky Mountains.

Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:

You've had strong runs at Bristol in both Trucks and Nationwide, are you excited to be going there this weekend?
"Bristol is one of the tracks that I find really fits my driving style, so it's one of my best tracks. It is a finesse track - you have to take care of your race car and let the race come to you. At the same time, it's one of the most exciting and fun places. It provides great racing, a cool atmosphere and when you run well there you feel very accomplished. Bandit Chippers is back on my Camry for the first time since Daytona, so they will be our good luck charm and we can give them another strong run."

What are the keys to getting around Bristol?
"You have to be methodical, be smart and try to slow everything down at a place where everything happens so fast. Bristol is unique in that it is very high speed for how small it is. A lot of people used to say that it's like a fighter jet in a fish bowl. You don't want to attack the race track or the race as much, you want it to come to you and work with your crew chief throughout the race to develop your car. You try not to put yourself in a bad position in the first 90% of the race and then the last 10% really go after it once everyone has played their cards."

Despite having some problems the last few weeks, are there some positives you can take out of those races?
"Absolutely - when you look at what we've been doing on this No. 77 Toyota Camry, we've had a ton of speed. Even in Phoenix where weren't as fast as we were in Vegas, we still had a solid top-10 car. To contend for the championship, you are going to have to have an average finish of 7.5 to 8.5, so if you can run in the top 10 every week you'll be there come Homestead. We absolutely have the speed to run in the top 10, and at Vegas with our mile-and-a-half program we showed that we had the speed to run in the top five, if not win those races. Speed is one of the hardest things to find in this sport, so when you have it, it is something that you can hang your hat on and be proud of. At the same time, you have to finish races to finish first, so we need to work on some things. We've got a great group of guys and we have a good outlook. We put ourselves in a bit of a hole, but we can definitely fight our way out of it."

Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:

Do you expect it to be single-groove racing Saturday?
"Yes, it will be mostly a single grove on the top like it has been the last few years. A few guys will be able to run the bottom, but it will be hard to pass. The challenge is that it is hard to run the top at the beginning of practice, because it takes having the track get rubbered up before you can work your way up there."

How do you overcome a couple of tough weeks?
"We've had issues the last two races, but they probably were more self-induced than anything. I don't think it's a real concern because we've had fast race cars, cars that were top-10 capable. We just need to keep working hard, doing the things that we know how to do and make sure that we dot all of our i's and cross all of our t's."

Parker Kligerman's No. 77 Toyota Camry:

KBM-3: KBM-3 will make its first start of the 2013 season in Saturday's Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300. The Camry raced five times in 2012, posting top-three finishes, including a third-place finish at Bristol in August. The last time that the Toyota was on the track, Kyle Busch recorded a fifth-place finish in the September race at Dover.

Notes of Interest:

Parker Kligerman @ Bristol:
• Started 12th and finished ninth in the 2011 Nationwide Series August race
• Came from the 43rd starting position to finish ninth in the 2010 August Nationwide Series race, earning his first-career top-10 finish in NASCAR's second division
• Finished in the runner-up position in last year's Truck Series race (8/22/12) and 10th in the 2011 Truck Series race

Parker Kligerman 2013:
• Qualified third, led 10 laps and registered a career-best fifth-place finish in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
Parker Kligerman 2012:
• Earned his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory at Talladega Superspeedway (10/6/12)
• Captured two pole awards (9/15/12 @ Iowa Speedway and 11/16/12 @ Homestead-Miami Speedway)
• Collected eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes en route to a fifth-place finish in the final NCWTS point standings
• Posted two top-10 finishes in three NNS starts, including a career-best seventh-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in July
Parker Kligerman Career Highlights:

2011 - Registered four top-five and eight top-10 finishes en route to an 11th-place finish in the final NCWTS point standings as a rookie
2010 - Recorded two top-10 finishes in 12 NNS starts
2009 - At the age of 19, captured the pole in his first-ever NNS start at Kansas Speedway, becoming the 10th driver in series history to accomplish the feat
2009 - Earned Rookie of the Year award in the ARCA Racing Series after winning a series-high nine races and finishing second in the final point standings

Kyle Busch Motorsports' NNS Program:

• After three races ranks 17th in the 2013 Nationwide Series owner's point standings
• Posted a season-best fifth-place finish in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
• Earned a season-best third-place starting position for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
• Registered 1 win (Kurt Busch at Richmond International Raceway 4/27/12) 4 runner-up finishes, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to an eighth-place finish in the owner's point standings last season in its inaugural NNS campaign
• Captured three poles, all with Kyle Busch behind the wheel (9/1/12 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 11/3/12 at Texas Motor Speedway and 11/17/12 at Homestead-Miami Speedway)
• Recorded eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes over the final 13 races of the 2012 season
• Overall in three seasons of NASCAR competition KBM has registered 19 victories (18 Truck Series, 1 NNS) and 11 poles (8 Truck Series, 3 NNS)
• In 2010, No. 18 Tundra team became first group since the Truck Series originated in 1995 to win the Owner's Championship in its inaugural season

Last Year @ Bristol:

• Kyle Busch qualified eighth and led 40 laps before being relegated to a 17th-place finish after cutting a right front tire with 50 laps remaining in the spring race
• Kyle Busch started 10th and finished third in the fall race
Last NNS Event:
• Parker Kligerman was running just outside the top 10 in last week's Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when a parts failure in the rear end of his No. 77 Camry and subsequent repairs caused him to lose several laps and resulted in a disappointing 30th-place finish

The Phillips File:

Crew chief Eric Phillips is in his first season as a crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and fourth atop the pit box for KBM. In three seasons as crew chief of KBM's flagship No. 18 Tundra, the Illinois native led the team to 17 victories and the 2010 Truck Series Owner's Championship. Phillips' 27 career Truck Series wins rank second on the all-time list, trailing only KBM General Manager Rick Ren (28).

Phillips' Truck Series drivers collected one win, one top-five and two top-10 finishes across nine starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. The veteran crew chief called shots when Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 116 laps en route to victory in the 2010 Truck Series race at "Thunder Valley" in the first leg of his trifecta.

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