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Nov 07, 2013 - 04:18 PM
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2013 Phoenix II: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Nov 07, 2013 - 04:07 PM
2013 Phoenix II: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview

Parker Kligerman isn't considered a Nationwide Series rookie by NASCAR due to the fact that his 12 starts while driving for an underfunded team in 2012 are slightly more than the minimum starts allowable in one season, but if this was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) racing league he would definitely be deemed a redshirt freshman. While Rookie Kyle Larson has garnered high praise for his impressive debut season, a close look at the numbers reveals that Kligerman has been flying under the radar, producing equally impressive results in his first full-time campaign in NASCAR's second division driving the No. 77 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).


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Both talented youngsters have put together solid freshman campaigns battling against a Nationwide Series field that is considered the most competitive in many years. Inside the top 10 in the championship standings, you find former Sprint Cup Series regulars Regan Smith (171 Sprint Cup Series starts), Elliott Sadler (433 Sprint Cup Series starts) and Brian Vickers (280 Sprint Cup Series starts), as well as former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne (45 Sprint Cup Series starts).

Kligerman made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last weekend, turning heads with an impressive 18th-place finish driving for Swan Racing - one of the newest teams in the premiere division. He hopes to continue to gain respect by finishing the season strong in the Nationwide Series, where he has posted an average finish of 9.0 over his last four races.

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

Do you feel like you've flown under the radar in your first full Nationwide Series campaign despite being inside the top 10 in points most of the year?
"I think missing out on being a part of the Rookie of the Year fight, although being an actual rookie in terms of running my first full season in the Nationwide Series has hurt us a little bit in terms of getting some extra coverage. Maybe some of the achievements we've had with being the only single-car team in the top 10 in driver points would've been a little more publicized if I was a rookie per NASCAR rules. Everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports has worked hard and we are going to continue to fight to try and move up to eighth in points these last two races. I think that is still doable if we do the right things on the race track and hopefully if we can achieve that goal it will help us get the recognition we deserve."

Do you think having a successful Sprint Cup Series debut opened a lot of eyes?
"I didn't quit realize how big the Cup Scene was until I ran my first race and had it was a successful debut. The feedback and media attention was so large that it shocked me a little bit. I'm really grateful for that opportunity and to all the people that supported me in my career to help me make it to that point. I've still got a long ways to go, but at the top is where your legacy starts and hopefully I can find ways to continue to do that the rest of my career."

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

You've won the last two Truck Series races at Phoenix. How much of your setup will you be able to transfer over?
"We've been really good in the Truck Series the last few years -- led a lot of laps. Some of the stuff we will be able to apply to our Camry -- shocks and some of the front geometry stuff still apply. Aero wise, the trucks are so much different and because of the drag, you use a lot less brake in the truck than in the car. We weren't as fast as we would've like to have been the first time around in Phoenix, so this is a race that we circled coming down the stretch that we want to have a better run and show people how much our team has improved since the beginning of the season."

Parker Kligerman's No. 77 Toyota Camry:

KBM-09: KBM-09 will make its fifth start of 2013 in Saturday's 200-lap event at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. The Camry has four top-five finishes across 10 career starts. The last time it was in action, Kligerman posted a seventh-place finish with it in the September Dover race. Kurt Busch collected KBM's lone Nationwide Series win with the Toyota in its debut last April at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Notes of Interest:
Parker Kligerman @ PIR:
• Qualified 11th but after experiencing a brake failure in the early stages and backing into the wall limped to a 20th-place finish in his first NNS start at the Arizona track (3/2/13)
• Qualified seventh for last year's Truck Series race, but was relegated to a 27th-place finish after being involved in accident near the halfway mark
• Finished 32nd after being involved in an accident on lap 104 of the 2011 Truck Series race

Parker Kligerman 2013 Highlights:
• Has posted three top-five and 12 top-10 finishes across 31 starts, including a series-best third-place finish at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (6/22/13)
• Ranks 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) championship point standings - 183 markers behind points leader Austin Dillon - with 31 of 33 races completed
• Has qualified a season-best third twice this season - the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America (6/22/13) andDRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)

Parker Kligerman 2012 Highlights:
• Earned his first career NCWTS victory at Talladega (Ala.) 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 then career-best seventh-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway
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
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 three top-five and 12 top-10 finishes, resulting in an average finish of 14.4 across 31 starts this season
• After 31 races ranks 13th in the 2013 NNS owner's point standings - 285 markers behind the series-leading No. 22 team
• Posted a season-best third-place finish in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisc. (6/22/13)
• Has earned a season-best third-place starting position twice - the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America (6/22/13) and the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
• Registered 1 win (Kurt Busch at Richmond International Raceway 4/27/12), 3 poles, 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
Last Year @ Phoenix:
• Kyle Busch qualified 14th and finished 11th in last year's March race
• Kyle Busch qualified second and finished fourth in last year's November race

Last NNS Event:
• After starting from the 14th position and going a lap down in the first half of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Parker Kligerman 'rallied' back inside the top 10 late in the race as he tried to collect his fourth consecutive top-10 finish. Unfortunately, the No. 77 ToyotaDreamBuild.com Camry - which featured a retro Toyota Paint scheme similar to that on Kligerman's CamRally entry in the Toyota Dream Build Challenge -got knocked back several spots shortly after advancing from 10th to seventh on the final restart and ended the day with a 13th-place finish.
Kyle Busch Motorsports:
• Overall in four seasons of competition, KBM has registered 24 victories (23 NCWTS, 1 NNS) and 13 poles (10 NCWTS, 3 NNS)
• In 2010, KBM's No. 18 Tundra team became the first group since the Truck Series originated in 1995 to win the Owner's Championship in its inaugural season

The Phillips File:
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 has been the winning crew chief in the last two Truck Series races at PIR - winning last year's event with Brian Scott and the 2011 event with owner-driver Kyle Busch. Across nine Truck Series races at PIR his, drivers have collected two wins, four top-five and five top-10 finishes while posting an average finish of 11.6.

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