This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 350K, the start of the three-race homestretch where old veterans mix in with new rookies looking to make a splash in 2011. For while Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine prepare to battle for the top spot in the owner’s points, Parker Kligerman will make his Truck Series debut with Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR).
“Having never driven a truck before, I really just need to keep an open mind going into this weekend,” Kligerman said. “This way, I won’t have any expectations and can focus fully on learning as much as I can and using that to my advantage come race time. With that said, I know Brad (Keselowski) is looking for a solid run and I hope to be able to make that happen.”In 2008, Kligerman joined Penske Racing as a development driver and immediately turned heads in his ARCA debut at the New Jersey Motorsports Park by starting second. He went on to finish sixth in that debut before running one more race that season at Toledo where he finished ninth.
The following year, the 20-year-old driver justified his presence in ARCA when he scored nine wins and 18 top-10 finishes in 21 starts; he started outside the top 10 just four times. Kligerman won Rookie of the Year honors that season, but Justin Lofton beat him for the championship by just five points. During that same year, he made his Nationwide Series debut at Kansas, where he started on the pole, led seven laps and finished 16th.
Fast forward to 2010, and Kligerman has spent 10 races behind the wheel in the Nationwide Series where he has just two top-10 finishes and failed to qualify at Daytona, Bristol, and Charlotte — all within the first 12 races of the season. His career-best finish came at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
This weekend, Kligerman will also attempt to make the Nationwide Series field and hopes to make his first two career starts at Texas.
“From what I’ve seen and learned about TMS, it seems to be a unique track,” he said. “It is a mile-and-a-half, and ever since my first mile-and-a-half start a little more than a year ago, I have really enjoyed this type of track. I feel they are the perfect mix of speed and handling that really makes it an exciting challenge for the crew and driver.”
BKR team owner Brad Keselowski enjoys doing his part to help out other young talent like himself in the NASCAR world.
“There are so many young guys that come into this sport with a lot of talent that never have a chance to make it because no one really takes the time to educate them on the sport,” Keselowski said. “I’m not saying that I’m the best guy out there to learn from, but I will do my best to educate them on my experiences. I had Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Rick Hendrick and Roger Penske to help me, not just by building my race cars, but with how to carry yourself in this sport. I think Parker has a lot of talent and I think he has a future in the sport.”
Kligerman was forced to make the field on time and starts 13th in his debut.
*Miguel Paludo Joins Red Horse Racing for Two Races*
Red Horse Racing announced Tuesday that Miguel Paludo will join the team for two of the final three races this season. He’ll pilot the No. 11 Stemco Toyota at Texas this weekend as well as the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Stemco, or Specialized Truck Equipment Manufacturing Company, is a Longview, Texas-based business which prides itself in being “the performance and value leader in the heavy and medium duty truck markets.” The 50-year-old company now ships its products to countries all over the world.
“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity with Red Horse Racing. I tested with RHR in January at New Symrna and I’m glad to be back with them this season,” Paludo said. “I’m looking forward to racing at both Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. With each lap, I’m learning more and more and that is helping me prepare for next year. I also want to thank Stemco for their continued support.”
The 27-year-old Brazilian has two previous Truck Series starts in 2010 behind the wheel of the No. 77 Toyota for Germain Racing, including a career-best ninth-place finish in his debut race at Bristol this August. He starts eighth tonight.
*Did You Know…*
* Turner Motorsports will announce its 2011 lineup this afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway? They’ll announce sponsor, driver and manufacturer plans for the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series.
* Lilly Trucking will be the primary sponsor for Bobby Hamilton, Jr.’s Rick Ware Racing No. 47 for tonight’s race? The company has worked with RWR in the Nationwide and Truck Series as well as the K&N Pro Series and ARCA; they’ve also signed on as a major associate sponsor for the entire 2011 campaign.
* Truck Series qualifying was held last night for tonight’s race? Matt Crafton and Elliott Sadler will start on the front row.