Parker Kligerman and the No. 77 Toyota Racing team overcame two pit road miscues, one by the over-the-wall crew and one by the driver, to post a respectable 11th-place finish in the 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Kligerman came from the tail end of the field twice and gained five positions over the final 20 laps to post his eighth consecutive top-15 finish. The comeback allowed the talented youngster to maintain sixth place in the championship standings with 11 of 33 races complete.
“We finished 11th in our All Metal Fabricators Camry, but it really wasn’t representative of what speed we had, what good of car we had, so it’s disappointing,” said Kligerman of his eventful day. “We probably had a top-five car there at the end and just had a pit malfunction there at the start of the race and went to the back and passed all the way to the top-10 and had another pit malfunction at the end and went to the back and got back to 11th. We passed most of the cars, and we’re pretty upset about it.”
After starting from the 14th spot the Connecticut native communicated that his No. 77 Camry was tight in the early stages, but began loosening up as the race proceeded caution free for the first 46 laps. He was scored in the 13th position when a one-car spin brought out the first caution of the race on lap 47. After a four-tire and fuel stop was administered, the jack got stuck underneath his car while leaving his pit box and per NASCAR rules was sent to the tail end of the field for the lap-52 restart.
From the 21st position the 22-year-old slowly began to slowly but surely maneuver his way forward. By the time the next caution occurred on lap 81 he was scored in the 18th spot. Relaying that his Camry was still extremely loose, the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a trackbar adjustment and returned their driver to the track scored in the 16th position for the ensuing restart.
With the track continuing to change as rubber laid down, Kligerman communicated to crew chief Eric Phillips that the aggressive adjustment was still not enough to help his ill-handling All Metal Fabricators Camry. He had gained just one position when the field was slowed for the third time on lap 114.
The over-the-wall crew made both wedge and trackbar adjustments in addition to the four-tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the track scored in the 14th position for the lap-120 restart. After another quick caution, Kligerman’s Camry came to life on the ensuing green-flag run. By the time the fifth and final caution occurred on lap 162, he had worked his way into the top 10 for the first time.
Looking to give his driver track position as the 200-lap event approached the final stages, Phillips called for a right-side only stop. Looking to gaining as many positions as possible, Kligerman was pegged for speeding entering the pits and once again was sent to the tail end of the field for the ensuing restart.
A determined driver made the best of the situation over the 34-lap green-flag run. Restarting from the 18th spot, he not only made it through lap traffic, but over the final 15 laps advanced four positions to bring home a hard-fought 11th-place finish.
Joey Logano picked up his first Nationwide Series win of 2013 and third in NASCAR’s second division at “The Monster Mile.” Brian Vickers crossed the strip 0.576 seconds behind Logano in the runner-up spot. Matt Kenseth and Trevor Bayne finished third and fourth, respectively, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were five caution periods totaling 28 laps. Five drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead nine times. Eleven drivers failed to finish the 200-lap event.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team, who rank 10th in the Nationwide Series owner’s point standings, head to Iowa Speedway in Newton for the Dupont Pioneer 250. Live television coverage of Saturday’s 250-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
-Kyle Busch Motorsports PR