MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Everybody loves a dark horse and the state of Kentucky has seen its share of them defy the odds at Churchill Downs. Donerail (1913), Mine That Bird (2009), Giacomo (2005), Gallahadion (1940) and Charismatic (1999) were all horses that won the Kentucky Derby with greater than 30 to 1 odds. Another charismatic colt will set his sights on a win at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, as 22-year-old Parker Kligerman aims to gallop past the favored Sprint Cup Series stars down the stretch and put his No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around Camry in victory lane after Friday’s Feed the Children 300.
The talented youngster has been on the cusp of picking up his first career Nationwide Series win the last two weeks. Two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn with the rain approaching, crew chief Eric Phillips rolled the dice and while others pitted left his young driver at the front of the field. Kligerman opened up a 1.5-second lead on the field, but when the precipitation fell later than anticipated, was forced to pit for fuel with just over 10 laps remaining and ended with a disappointing 25th-place finish. Last week, he had one of the fastest vehicles at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisc., but fell to the back of the field after getting run of course. With four laps remaining, the Connecticut native had muscled his way back to the front of the field, but a crinkled hood slightly affected the handling of his Camry and he had to settle for a career-best third-place finish.
Kentucky is a track that Kligerman has had already achieved success at in his budding career. He led 58 laps en route to victory in the 2009 ARCA Racing Series event. In four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, he posted two runner-up finishes. In his first time in a truck at the 1.5-mile tri-oval he nearly ran down now-owner Kyle Busch but came up just short and in his most recent trip to “The Bluegrass State” finished second to 2012 Truck Series Champion James Buescher.
With a field that consists of Sprint Cup Series stars Kyle Busch and Brad Keselwoski along with former Cup Series regulars Regan Smith, Sam Hornish Jr., Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers, to the general public Kligerman would appear to be a dark horse. He will saddle into his brand new Camry, looking to be strong out of the gates and do everything he can to hold off the competition down the stretch and leave Kentucky as the latest dark horse to be victorious.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around Toyota Camry:
With many Sprint Cup Series regulars running conjunction races, do you feel like you are a dark horse in those races? “I think any time that the Cup guys are a part of our series, they will always hold the favored position in the betting odds and the rest of us are the dark horses in the public eye. For a team like ours, with the amount of work that we put in and the standard we hold ourselves to, I see no reason why we can’t compete with those guys when we get things right. We had a great test at Kentucky a few weeks ago and we are rolling out a brand new race car for the first time this year. I believe it is going to be a step forward for the entire Kyle Busch Motorsports organization and hopefully we can go out there and show it — go out there this weekend and beat those Cup guys.”
How close have you been to winning at Kentucky? “Kentucky is a track that seems like every time I’ve gone there I’m running either first or second. I ran second for a while the first time I went there in ARCA and then the next time around I won. In the trucks, never got the win, but have finished second twice, including last year when I ran second for 120 laps of the first race and finished second in the fall event. I’d like to go win there because I’m tired of second. I think everyone on this Kyle Busch Motorsports team had a really good test out there. It was one of the first places we got to test this year and we felt like we found something so we’re really excited to go back.”
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around Toyota Camry:
Your team will be unloading a brand new Camry this week. What areas of improvement did you work on? “We did a lot of little things, but didn’t make any major changes. With this being the first car that we’ve built since me and some of my guys moved over to the Nationwide Series program, we just wanted to have our stamp of approval on some things. We worked on some aero stuff, some chassis stuff – trying to get things lighter and all the things you try and do when you build a new race car.”
Will the two-day test your team participated in earlier this month at Kentucky help you this week? “I think it will be a big help – not just at Kentucky but for our overall program. We tested VIR (Virginia International Raceway) and then Kentucky and with this being my first year working with these cars and Parker’s first full-season driving them, it helped us understand the car some more and get a better baseline for where we need to be each week starting out.”
Parker Kligerman’s No. 77 Camp Horsin’ Around Toyota Camry:
KBM-12: The No. 77 Toyota Racing team will unload a brand new Camry for Friday’s Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. KBM-12 is the first chassis built since crew chief Eric Phillips was promoted to oversee the Nationwide Series program.
-Kyle Busch Motorsports PR