Kligerman Has Best Chance For Breakthrough Win At Iowa
Location: Charlotte, NC
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES ROOKIE KLIGERMAN STARING DOWN BEST CHANCE FOR BREAKTHROUGH WIN SATURDAY AT IOWA
PENSKE RACING DEVELOPMENT DRIVER LEANS ON OWNER KESELOWSKI IN RETURN TO TRACK HE DOMINATED IN 2009 ARCA RACING SERIES
He has flown mostly under the radar so far this season, but NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Parker Kligerman has emerged as a favorite to score his career-first NASCAR victory this weekend at Iowa Speedway, a track he dominated in the 2009 ARCA Racing Series.
Kligerman made waves recently with consecutive second-place finishes in Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway, and now heads to Iowa for Saturday’s race (8 p.m. ET live on SPEED™; NCWTS Setup with Krista Voda at 7:30 p.m. ET) and his best chance yet at breaking through in the win column. Kligerman, driver of the No. 29 Penske Truck Rental Dodge for Brad Keselowski Racing, sits fifth in Truck Series points on the strength of four top-10 finishes in the past six races.
The 20-year-old driver credits seat time and simply going with what he knows for his recent streak of solid runs.
“I’ve gone back to how I used to do things,” Kligerman said. “At the beginning of the season, I was a little brash and naïve in thinking that in doing 10 Nationwide races (in 2010), I’d learned everything there was to learn about stock cars. And going into the Truck Series, I thought if I was in good equipment, I’d go out there and win races right off the bat. I probably tried too hard to make that happen. I’ve kind of gone back to what I used to do, which was to let the races come to me. Instead we were just trying to rebuild trucks, which never make them go faster.”
The Penske Racing development driver admits pushing the truck beyond its capabilities cost him dearly in two races, but those mistakes served as a wake-up call to the young driver.
“I made a stupid mistake at Texas and a stupid mistake at Dover while going for second late in the race, which put us in a hole points-wise,” Kligerman reflected. “Since then, I’ve gotten my head screwed on straight. Given that and finishing races and running up front—I think that’s where a lot of our progress has come from.”
The next stop for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series just happens to be a track that Kligerman turned into his own personal playground in 2009 with a dominating win in the ARCA Racing Series. Although he hadn’t been to Iowa Speedway prior to that weekend, Kligerman led 142 of 200 laps in his 12th series start and beat Austin Dillon to the checkered flag. The feat marked his fourth win in a five-race winning streak that he parlayed into nine wins for the season and a runner-up spot in the championship.
Ray Dunlap, SPEED reporter for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, says Kligerman’s time is now.
“Parker is so close to that first win that he can smell it – we all can,” Dunlap said. “What is so amazing about what that team has done is that they’re driving Dodges without any factory support. At the beginning of the year, they appeared really out to lunch with their program, but they’ve done an incredible amount of homework. Their new crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz, got in there and put his arms around that program like a veteran. There is no doubt in my mind that either Parker or Cole Whitt will be the next to break through to Victory Lane for their first win.”
Kligerman and company have a solid leader on which to lean. His owner, Keselowski, knows a thing or two about competing for a championship at a young age, capturing the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series title while 26. Kligerman says Keselowski executes wisdom beyond his years in his management style.
“It’s sometimes weird to think the boss is the same age as my older brother,” Kligerman joked. “Sometimes I look at it like my older brother giving me advice. But for Brad’s young age, he is more hands-on than most guys. He’s hands-on from Monday through Friday in terms of how we build the trucks, what’s going on, how we can make them better, what parts we need. When you talk to him, the first question he will ask is, ‘What do we need to be better?’ If he can’t get it, he will think of another way we can tackle that problem. He takes a lot of what he learns in the Cup Series and brings it down to our Truck team, which helps a lot.”
Perhaps it’s the proximity in age between the truck owner, driver and crew that has helped this team leapfrog the learning curve as the season has progressed.
“This is the first time our team has tried to tackle the full season and we’ve got a lot of new guys,” Kligerman explained. “My crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz, marked his first year as a crew chief at Kentucky. We’re very young but look at what we’ve been able to achieve without a lot of funding and a hard-working group of guys.”
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