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2013 Fontana: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Mar 20, 2013 - 11:06 AM
2013 Fontana: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview

Parker Kligerman will be looking to have a strong run in Saturday's Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. for one of his biggest fans, his 90-year-old grandmother Doris Hammond. When Kligerman takes the green flag for the 150-lap event, it will be the first time that "Grandma Dottie" - who lives an hour west of the 2-mile oval in Glendale, Calif. - will be in the stands watching one of her grandson's races live and in person.


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Kyle Busch Motorsports' Nationwide Series program with Kligerman behind the wheel has carried the momentum over from an impressive late season-stretch in 2012 with Kyle and Kurt Busch behind the wheel into early success this season. By posting top-10 finishes in two of the first four races this season, KBM's Nationwide Series program has now finished inside the top 10 in 14 of the last 17 races, including nine top-five finishes. This year's team has started off the season stronger than last year's, earning an average starting position of 9.5 and average finish of 15.8 over the first four races, compared to an average starting position of 16.5 and average finish of 19.8 tallied over the first four events during its inaugural Nationwide Series campaign.

While the team is improving with experience, so too is its 22-year-old driver. Kligerman burst onto the Nationwide Series scene in 2009 as a 19-year-old with high accolades after posting one of the best ARCA Racing seasons in series history, winning nine times and finishing second in points. In his first-ever Nationwide Series race, the Connecticut native captured the pole at Kansas Speedway, becoming just the 10th driver in series history to accomplish the feat. He led seven laps in the race and finished 16th.

The future looked bright, but driving mostly for an underfunded Nationwide Series team over his first 14 Nationwide Series starts, he was only able to collect two top-10 finishes. Since then, after two full seasons polishing his skills in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and now driving in better Nationwide Series equipment, a more experienced Kligerman has posted top-10 finishes in five of his last eight starts in NASCAR's second division, including a career-best fifth-place finish in his KBM debut at Daytona in February.

A young but experienced Kligerman knows that if he continues to improve as a driver and his No. 77 Toyota crew continues to blossom as a team, it won't be long before they find themselves in victory lane. How fitting would it be if they were able to accomplish the feat in front of someone who knows a little bit about being older and wiser, 90-year-old "Grandma Dottie?"

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

Your 90-year-old grandmother will be seeing you race in person for the first time this weekend, how cool is that?
"I'm really excited that 'Grandma Dottie' will be in the stands on Saturday. She probably wondered what I was doing at the beginning of my racing career, but she's always been one of my biggest supporters. Out of all my fans, she is probably the one that is watching my races most intensely and taking the best notes -- maybe even better than the notes we take."

You don't have a lot of experience at Auto Club Speedway, how will you approach this week's race?
"California is a track that I haven't raced at a lot, I've only raced there once back in 2010 and it really wasn't the greatest of runs for me. I enjoyed the track, it reminded me a lot of Michigan, which is a track that I've had a lot of success at. There are a lot of bumps and a lot of tire wear at California, which are things that separate the guys that know how to race from the guys that don't. It's a track where you really have to communicate with your crew chief to figure out the car and get through the bumps. I think that Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and I will be able to do that and hopefully we can come away with a victory."

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

This is your first visit to Auto Club Speedway since 2009, does that present a challenge?
"I don't think that it will be any different than the first four races of the season, because we really don't have a lot of notes to go off with our Nationwide Series cars. The last time I was at California, it was hot, it was rough and you fought with grip - I suspect that it is going to be the same old California this weekend."

Despite the end result, you showed a lot of speed at Las Vegas. Will that translate into a fast Camry this weekend?
"I think other than at Phoenix, we've had speed in all the other races and sometimes that's the hardest thing to find. We just need to keep tuning on our Camry's a little bit to get Parker more comfortable with them. All the guys on this No. 77 team have been working really hard and we're ready to go to California this weekend and have another strong run."

Parker Kligerman's No. 77 Toyota Camry:

KBM-11: KBM-11 will make its first start of the 2013 season in Saturday's Royal Purple 300. The Camry raced four times in 2012, capturing the pole in its debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September and posting two top-five and three top-10 finishes. The last time that the Toyota was on the track, Kyle Busch recorded a fourth-place finish in the November race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Notes of Interest:

Parker Kligerman 2013:
• Has posted one top-five and two top-10 finishes across four starts, including a ninth-place finish last week at Bristol Motor Speedway
• Ranks 11th in the Nationwide Series championship point standings after four races
• 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:

• Has collected one top-five and two top-10 finishes across four starts this season
• After four races are tied for 13th 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, KBM's 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 @ Fontana:

• Kyle Busch qualified 15th, led 13 laps and finished eighth; earning KBM's first-ever top-10 finish in the Nationwide Series
Last NNS Event:
• Parker Kligerman overcame an early miscue on pit road to bring home a ninth-place finish in the Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
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 pole (Travis Kvapil, 10/2/04) and two top-10 finishes across five starts at Auto Club Speedway, resulting in an average finish of 15.2.

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