Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Mike Neff · Wednesday May 2, 2012
Parker Kligerman pilots one of the two, full-time Dodge Trucks in the Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is currently sixth in points with two top-10 finishes in four races. Not only will he be racing in the Truck Series all season, but he’ll also be running cars in select Nationwide series events for renowned car owner Roger Penske. Frontstretch caught up with Kligerman while he was on his way to Nashville Superspeedway for a test and touched base on many different aspects of his racing and non-racing lives.
Mike Neff: Are you an employee of Penske Racing or Brad Keselowski Racing?
Parker Kligerman: Technically I am a Penske Racing development driver. I don’t have a contract with Brad or anything like that, in that respect. I’m there because of the Penske connection and Brad and all of those things that kind of came together to make this happen. I do have a contract with Penske racing though.
Mike Neff: The reason I asked that is because, in talking with Justin Allgaier a couple of years ago during the Media Tour, I inquired about doing the Chili Bowl and races like that. He said that Roger really frowns on doing outside stuff that could negatively impact your full-time job racing for him. With that said, do you get the chance to do any kind of racing outside of the Camping World Trucks and Nationwide Series?
Parker Kligerman: It is about the Trucks. In essence the Truck is my Penske racing vehicle, until I get the chance to step in that Nationwide vehicle for a couple of races this season. It isn’t a Penske racing car but it is what they say you’re going to drive this year. That is your deal. So anything outside of what they deem to be your full-time ride is extracurricular and you have to ask permission. It is understandable, obviously as drivers we’re a valuable part of the organization and if we went out there and did something stupid to get hurt in a race car that we shouldn’t have been in then that is our fault and they kind of try to avoid that by saying don’t do it.
Mike Neff: I completely understand that. I know Allgaier had stated that if he could guarantee Roger that a midget would be 100% safe then he could go run the Chili Bowl. You know as well as I do, any time you get into a car and try and race it, it can’t be 100% safe.
Parker Kligerman: Absolutely, and it is completely understandable. I come from midgets and I would love to, once in a while, go do that. But it doesn’t really make sense right now. This is my career and this is what I care about. To improve from here and get to the top of the sport you have to focus on this 100% to go out and beat these guys, so it is almost something that, in the end I don’t want to take away from my focus, so I don’t really think about it.
Mike Neff: Do you have any pets?
Parker Kligerman: I do not have any pets. I have a dog back at home, but not dogs or pets that are mine. I’ve never really had any pets. My pets have been race cars. I do have funny thing that people who follow me on Twitter will know, I have a large, stuffed animal, giraffe, that we consider our pet at my apartment. He’s the best pet in the world because you don’t have to clean up after him and he doesn’t do anything. We don’t have to do anything for him, he’s self-sufficient so he’s the best pet I can ask for.
Mike Neff: How about hobbies? Do you fish? Do you hunt? Do you listen to music?
Parker Kligerman: I’m not cool as far as the fishing or hunting thing. I grew up on the ocean so I have fished before, I did when I was younger. So that is not something I haven’t been exposed to. I’ve never hunted. My hobbies are, I would say right now my biggest interests are; I love to work out, and I love music. I am a huge music geek and music fan. I love all types of music and finding new music and those types of things. At this point in my life I kind of wish I’d taken up a musical instrument or something because I have such a love for music. And lastly would be golf. I love golf. I’m trying to get better at it. Trying to be a better golfer and enjoy going out there and getting away from everything.
Mike Neff: Speaking of golf, do you ever get the chance to play with Denny Hamlin? I know he’s become quite the golf nut of late.
Parker Kligerman: No, no. (laughs) It sounds to me like he is a lot better than I am at this point and in the foreseeable future. Maybe one day, but not for now.
Mike Neff: You got your start doing go-karts and midgets and some other open wheel type stuff. How did it end up you got steered toward full bodied stock cars?
Parker Kligerman: When I got out of go-karts I went and did open wheel cars which were kind of Formula cars they’re called. Almost like an Indy car or Formula One type of race car, obviously a lot smaller scale. I wanted to go to Europe. I wanted to go F1 racing and do road course racing and it became very apparent that you needed a lot of funding and my dad only wanted to help me for that first year so the only opportunity for young drivers who believe they want to be professional race car drivers was NASCAR. It was the only place, as a young driver, that you could find a ride and find funding and find places that you didn’t have to have family funding to be able to make it in the sport. So that is where I went and midgets is where we decided to go. So we went over there and I only did 12 races the first year, kind of funding it myself with an early inheritance from my grandpa. Between those two things I was able to fund about a 12 race season. From the end of that season we were able to put a deal together to drive the Cunningham Motorsports midget team which was connected to their ARCA team. That was my second to last year of midget racing At the end of the year, after doing a good job in midgets, I got the opportunity to do two ARCA races, and qualified second at my first one and finished sixth. I finished ninth at my second one. After that I signed my development contract with Penske racing and the next year we decided to do ARCA. It was pretty quick. I was always in the right place at the right time I guess. I took small opportunities and turned them into large opportunities. Because of that, people don’t really believe that I got to where I was so quickly, without family funding or anything, but we really did it with very little family funding and very little corporate support at all. I just happened to be in places where they needed a driver to do well and was there to do well.
Mike Neff: You did some midget racing, so you’ve at least competed on dirt, is there any interest in, as your career advances, doing any fun racing on dirt or are you pretty focused on asphalt?
Parker Kligerman: I actually never competed on dirt. We only ran asphalt stuff. I ran two races on dirt in ARCA and I won them both, so at this time I have a perfect record on dirt and I don’t plan on hurting that record any time soon. I look forward to doing some dirt racing in the future but at this time, having a perfect record is kind of an amazing thing to say so, I’m two for two and I don’t plan on messing that up.
Mike Neff: So you won both of the ARCA dirt races you ran?
Parker Kligerman: Yeah, that was my first ever time on dirt. Funny story about that would be, Ken Schrader was at the first one and I can’t remember which track it was between the two, but I’d never been there before and we talked before the race and he was giving me some pointers and stuff and I said thanks. So after the race I saw him, and I’d won the race. I think we’d led the most laps and won the race in pretty convincing fashion, I mean I was going 85% and leading the race by two seconds, so it wasn’t hard at all. I walked up to him and said ‘hey, not to bad for my first time on dirt.’ He turned to me and said ‘that ain’t real dirt’ and he walked off. I guess I don’t know. It seemed like dirt to me. When I was avoiding pot holes in turn one I felt like it was dirt.
Mike Neff: Education0wise, did you get out of high school and then move to Illinois to go midget racing or did you do some college or anything like that?
Parker Kligerman: I still was in high school when I midget raced. I actually graduated from high school during my ARCA season and moved down to Charlotte shortly thereafter. To be near Penske racing at the time and that was in August. I went to UNC Charlotte for a semester and a half and then actually halfway through my second semester I had to stop because we were travelling so much I just couldn’t keep up the attendance, it was getting so crazy. I actually had good grades, I had a 3.0, I just couldn’t keep up the attendance. I obviously could have done it online but I kind of looked at it and said ‘I’m going to put my full focus on racing because you only get one shot at this, you can always come back to that.’.
Mike Neff: Do you ever get to hang out with Brad Keselowski away from the track?
Parker Kligerman: I just saw him at the shop the other day. We don’t really, aside from seeing each other at the race tracks or traveling, not really. It is very much a business relationship. He’s a mentor is the best way to put it, I guess. There is a lot of lessons to be made. I wouldn’t say we’re not friends but y’know we’re obviously not buddies as much as we’re, he’s the mentor and I’m the pupil. That’s the basis of our relationship.
Mike Neff: Being around Roger Penske. Do you ever get to sit around and just talk racing and pick his brain?
Parker Kligerman: Absolutely, whenever we’re at the track and he’s there we sit in his bus and talk racing and what’s going on. It is amazing that, when I first signed on at Penske racing at the age of 18, to be a part of one of the most iconic, American race teams and probably one of the most historic American race teams there is in all forms of motorsports. To be a part of that and be talking racing with Roger Penske at that young age, or still at this young age, is pretty amazing. Obviously it has been a lot to learn and I’ve been trying to take in as many lessons in as possible but it is still a lot to learn. I’m just thankful to have a mentor and someone to look up to be a boss and to have a boss like Roger Penske.
Mike Neff: Knowing his connection to open wheel and knowing you came from open wheel, is there any possible interest or chance of you going the Indy car route at any time?
Parker Kligerman: At this time, I would say no. I never even thought about it. I haven’t given it a second of thought. My thoughts are I’m going to be a Cup driver and one day I’m going to be a champion on top of this sport of stock car racing and NASCAR and that is what I look forward to and what I work everyday towards. Hopefully that will be with Penske racing and hopefully I can repay him with a Cup Championship for everything he’s done for me in my career. As for the Indy car stuff, it is a major part of Penske racing but for me I am more of a fan of that than a participant and I don’t have any idea of being a participant. I think about the only thing I’d ever ask for is, if I were able to win a Championship for Penske racing, maybe a chance to test one oneday. Other than that, no real want to do that. Maybe one day think about the Indy 500 but, other than that, no real drive to go Indy cars.
Mike Neff: You’re from Connecticut. What are your sports allegiances to as far as professional sports?
Parker Kligerman: New York. Yankees, Giants, Rangers.
Mike Neff: Having been in the Connecticut area, did you ever race any of the big three up there? Thompson, Stafford or Waterford?
Parker Kligerman: I actually didn’t. I never had the opportunity. We were going to back in ’07, try and do some midget races or something, but there just wasn’t, it is sad to say, but when we looked at what were the opportunities and what place would I get the most exposure. Obviously with midget racing that is the Midwest and Indiana. That is where it comes from and Indianapolis is midget racing Mecca. It didn’t make sense to go up there and do lesser series or lesser things that didn’t get you any exposure or closer to NASCAR. I wish it wasn’t that way and I wish the Northeast racing scene was like it was 20 or 30 years ago, when guys were coming out of there to go Cup racing but I don’t see it happening any time soon. With the lack of real eyes on the series in those places, there aren’t a lot of guys watching it or a lot of people paying attention to what is going on up there. There are a lot of great drivers but they aren’t going to get the exposure that they need to hopefully get noticed by an upper level team in NASCAR.
Mike Neff: Did you live in Indianapolis and what was your favorite track in Indiana?
Parker Kligerman: I lived there in the Summer of ’08 for a couple of months between sessions of school. I was still going to public school so I was flying back and forth which made it quite expensive for myself. I’ll say the favorite track I had out there with the midgets was Anderson, Indiana. It is there version of Bristol for a midget. It is about a 10 second lap and it is completely ferocious and awesome. It is high banked and high speed. It is one groove and you have to move guys out of the way to get by them. It was by far my favorite track. I believe, I don’t know at this point but, when I was there in ’08, I held the track record on a regional tire for a midget. I had three pole positions there so I liked that place a lot and it fit my driving style. It was just the kind of a place that had the Bristol sort of feel for midget racing. At the same time though, I loved ORP (now Lucas Oil Raceway Park) I ran there for the night before the 500. There is no track where you can sit on the inside and watch a midget qualify where you just watch the driver moving the wheel and smoke rolls off of the right rear wheel.
Mike Neff: Last thing, why are you headed to Nashville?
Parker Kligerman: I’ve got to test a Nationwide car. We’ve got two days out there with the No. 22 Discount Tire Challenger. I have to prepare for our first race coming up in Iowa in May. We’ll also be racing at Chicago and a couple of other tracks. It is in preparation to get in that Nationwide car a couple of times over the Summer and into the Fall. Looking forward to that, getting to go work with that team, they’re a great team, a championship caliber team. There is a lot to learn from those guys that I can bring over to the Truck side. They’re working on some things that hopefully we can apply to our Truck over in the Brad Keselowski racing stable. Other than that it is just to get used to those guys and get ourselves situated and ready to go run some Nationwide races.
Kligerman is poised for a run at the Championship in the Camping World Truck series and very well could move up to the Nationwide series in the next year or two if he continues to have the success that he has shown throughout his rise through the racing ranks. If nothing else, he can always use his considerable experience with stuffed giraffes and open a ranch to raise them for other bachelors who have little time at home.
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Wow, seems like Ken was not happy. But he has a point. The kind of dirt ARCA races on is so hard-packed and dry, seems like it must almost be like racing on asphalt with bias ply tires, lol.
Nice interview. I like PK29 and hope he can win some truck races this year.
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