MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Many drivers feel that it is hard to control your own destiny at a superspeedway race, but Parker Kligerman isn’t one of those drivers. The 22-year-old believes that there is technique and a strategy involved in plate racing and while his team may not make a lot of laps on the track in practice for Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the superspeedway student will have put in the “homework” necessary to be in a position to succeed long before he buckles into his No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry – which will feature a patriotic paint scheme for the holiday weekend.
The results Kligerman has posted on superspeedways back up his theory. He has finished sixth or better, led multiple laps and been in position to win both of the Nationwide Series superspeedway races this season. Last year, he picked up his lone Truck Series win on a superspeedway, winning the October event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and also registered a respectable 11th-place finish in the Daytona Truck Series race. That gives him an average finish of 5.8 across his last four NASCAR superspeedway races.
For Friday night’s race, Kligerman and his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team will be unloading the same Toyota Camry, KBM-10, that they qualified third and finished fifth with in the season-opening event at Daytona and followed it up with a sixth-place finish at Talladega in May. It will also have a familiar logo on the hood, as Bandit Chippers jumps on board for its first of three additional primary races after seeing the rewards of a successful early-season schedule.
When Kligerman hits the track at Daytona, he will already be mentally prepared for what lies ahead in Friday night’s 100-lap shootout. He will have watched race tapes, put in laps on a simulator and developed a game plan in his head of how the race will likely play out and where he needs to be during different stages of the race. The student of superspeedway racing is hoping to be the valedictorian of the Subway Jalapeno 250 and leave Florida with his first Nationwide Series victory.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry:
You’ve been pretty good on the superspeedways, whether it was in the trucks last year or the two Nationwide races this year. Would you consider yourself a student of superspeedway racing? “Absolutely — I think superspeedway is about homework and putting in the research and understanding exactly what position you need to be in at the end of the race and where you need to be throughout to avoid the wreck and avoid places you probably don’t need to be — that aren’t going to benefit you at the end of the race. So, we saw at Daytona earlier this year, I rode in the back for a lot of the race and then I have a deal at about the 50 percent mark I start to move forward and on the last lap it put us in a position to win the race. Then at Talladega, it was very much the same similar strategy – ran outside the top 10 for most of the race and then I was able to put ourselves in position to win it at the end of the race. So, I think it’s definitely something that involves a lot of homework, a lot of studying and a little bit of luck, but when you do it right you can hopefully put yourself in position to win — although it doesn’t always guarantee anything at a superspeedway.”
When you say that you do homework, what types of things do you do to prepare for a superspeedway race? “I don’t like to give away all my secrets, but I’d say some parts of it would be race tape, which is what a lot of people do, and another thing I like to look at would be SIM racing. I’ll go on and do a couple superspeedway SIM races — kind of get my head in the mode of being at a superspeedway race, the chess game that it is at 200 mph, but definitely just study my moves — study making decisions on a virtual race track that involve superspeedway racing decisions.”
You have a patriotic paint scheme for 4th of July this weekend, what does it mean to carry that on a special holiday? “It’s awesome. The Fourth of July is obviously a very special holiday for our country and especially for a sport like ours — it’s so patriotic — to have a patriotic scheme on our Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry this week is a really exciting deal for me. I’ve always been a huge proponent of the stars and stripes and think the best looking race cars always incorporate some form of a patriotic looking scheme. So, I’m very excited to have it on board and hopefully it’s a good treat to all of the men and women overseas and all throughout our armed forces fighting to keep us safe and keep us free and enabling us to still come out here and race.”
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry:
How much will the track conditions have changed from the race in February? “Typically when you think of a night race versus a day race at the same track, usually there is a lot more grip during the night race, but at Daytona with the change in weather since February that is not the case. It will be much hotter, which will make it slicker and handling will come into play more. With handling coming into play more because of the heat that will also put more stress on the motors when guys are doing the two-car tango, so I think this time you’ll see a lot more draft racing.”
You’ve been fast on the first two superspeedway races, have you made any changes to your car since Talladega? “Not really — we are bringing the same car that we ran at both Daytona and Talladega and will unload with a setup similar to what we had in February. With the two-car tango, qualifying doesn’t really mean as much as it used to. If I have it my way, we will go out and run a handful of laps in practice and park it for the rest of the session. With these superspeedway races, there isn’t much you can do to improve your handling — you usually have what you have when you unload, it isn’t worth running a whole bunch of laps in practice and taking the chance of ending up with a wrecked race car.”
Parker Kligerman’s No. 77 Toyota Camry:
KBM-10: KBM-10 will make its third start of 2013 in this weekend’s Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Kligerman qualified third, led 10 laps and finished fifth with the Camry at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February and led four laps and finished sixth with it in the May race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The car has led at least one lap in all four of its career starts and has posted two top-five and three top-10 finishes.
-Kyle Busch Motorsports PR