Las Vegas, NV. — Parker Kligerman headed to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Smith’s 350 looking to continue his streak of consistent runs at intermediate tracks on the circuit. Showing commanding speed through the first half of the race, a pit road penalty and a brush with the outside retaining wall set Kligerman and the No. 7 Red Horse Racing Tundra back for a 19th place finish.
For the third week in a row, Kligerman began his race weekend by topping the speed charts for the majority of the practice session on Friday, happy with the speed of his Red Horse Racing Tundra as he and his team worked strictly on race setups. Without a mock qualifying run to go off of, Kligerman captured the 14th place starting position. He knew he would have to quickly make his climb to the front if he wanted a chance at the clean air his Tundra would prefer.
In turn four on the first lap of the night, Kligerman narrowly dodged a bullet as teammate Todd Bodine went for a loop directly in front of the No. 7 Toyota Tundra. Quick reaction time by the Connecticut native helped him scoot by unscathed and continue his march towards the front. By lap 10, Kligerman had moved into top-10 for the first time, explaining to crew chief Chad Kendrick that he would need help through the bumps in order to get up to and run with the leaders.
Kligerman would get his first round of adjustments under the fourth caution of the night, as Kendrick made a gutsy strategy call to take only right side tires and send his driver back out to competition with the lead for the restart. The move paid off and the clean air helped bring Kligerman’s Tundra to life, as he pulled out to a commanding lead just a few laps after taking the restart. Though he had a comfortable lead, the shorter stop for two tires left him on a different fuel mileage strategy than the rest of the leaders, and Kligerman was forced to pit on lap 73 for four tires and fuel.
While pulling off the track for his stop, Kligerman wasn’t able to get his Red Horse Racing Tundra slowed down enough in the first segment of pit road and was penalized for speeding. The pass through penalty put him one lap down to the leaders, leaving him in a battle with teammate Timothy Peters for the lucky dog award. His persistence and patience paid off with 30 laps remaining as the caution came out, putting him back on the lead lap. Kendrick brought Kligerman down pit road one last time for an adjustment and a new set of tires to help him make his way back to the front on the restart.
With time winding down, Kligerman made a bold move on the outside heading into turn one on the restart, hoping to gain several spots in one fell swoop. Going three and four wide to make passes, Kligerman ran out of racing room and brushed the wall with the right side of his Tundra. The contact caused right front damage that would send him into the turn two wall two laps later, bringing out the caution with 19 laps to go. The second impact with the retaining wall caused irreparable damage to Kligerman’s Red Horse Racing Tundra, forcing him to end the night in the garage with a 19th place finish.
“I just made a mistake and it cost us. The pit road speeding penalty really set us back in the pack and we had to spend so much time and work hard to get our lap back. Then when we finally did, I just drove it in to make something happen on the outside and ended up getting the right sides into the wall. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out, because with races like this, you just have to make something happen to have a shot to win,” Kligerman explained.
“We’ve done everything we can and these Red Horse Racing guys give me fast Toyota Tundras every week. I really thought we were going to have something for them tonight. We’ll just put this in the past and move on because that’s what you have to do if you want to compete for this championship.”