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While his No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing team decided against coming to Kentucky Speedway, Parker Kligerman was still among the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series paddock by virtue of the ailing John Wes Townley.
With Townley suffering from concussion-like symptoms, Kligerman was chosen by Athenian Motorsports to replace the one-time winner in the team’s No. 05 Jive Chevrolet. However, while the move was a step up in equipment, handling struggles plagued Kligerman’s run, relegating him to a 19th-place result.
“First and foremost, obviously we’re hoping JWT has a speedy recovery,” Kligerman said. “This is not the circumstances you want to get in a truck this good, but it’s cool nonetheless to have the opportunity.”
The day started out promising for the single-truck operation. Following Thursday’s practice sessions, Kligerman made the final round of Keystone Light Pole Qualifying before slotting in sixth.
“After practice and qualifying I was really confident,” Kligerman said. “I think [(James) Villeneuve, Crew Chief] and all of these guys did a great job with this Jive Chevy. “We were crushing it in practice and qualifying. I felt like we had a shot at the pole, but I just got a little tight.”
Once the race began, however, things started to go awry. Kligerman struggled with the handling of his machine early, and never managed to run competitively. The final death sentence for the team came around the midway point of the race, when blistering tires forced Kligerman to pit road during a green-flag run. Kligerman fell two laps down as a result, and never made his way back to the lead lap.
“We got in the race and we were just plowing tight,” Kligerman. “We (finally) got it better, and then we blistered a right-front tire. I had to pit under green and went two laps down. I got a lap back and it went green all the way to the end, so it really just killed us.
“Even with how tight we were, I still think it was a top-10 truck. We just… We came here to win. Somehow, either I got us off, or we had a little issue or something, but we were just way too tight to compete.”
While the team did show promise throughout the weekend, the race was solely a one-off opportunity for Kligerman. The Connecticut native currently has no plans to compete in the next series race at Eldora Speedway.
“I’ll be back in the No. 92 at Bristol,” Kligerman said. “That’s going to be our next race. We’re going to do, probably Talladega, Martinsville, we’ll decide on one or two of the three mile-and-a-halves, and Homestead. I’ll definitely be at that.”
Still, with Townley’s current timetable to return uncertain, Kligerman wouldn’t be opposed to Athenian Motorsports.
“If the call rings, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the chance to do it again, but focusing on tonight I wish we could’ve given these guys a better result,” said Kligerman. “I think they deserved it, and we had the truck to do it. Somehow we just got a little bit off.”
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