Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/27/14
Parker Kligerman overcame flu-like symptoms throughout the day, an ill-handling No. 77 Toyota Camry in the middle stages of Friday’s VFS Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and a late-race miscue to post a respectable top-15 finish in his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the track dubbed “Too Tough to Tame.” After running just outside the top 15 for the majority of the 147-lap race, Kligerman was unsuccessful in his first attempt to enter pit road for his final pit stop of the night and by the time he made his way back around the 1.366-mile track and service was completed, found himself a lap down with just over 30 laps remaining. After taking advantage of the wave around rule with just over 20 laps remaining, the Connecticut native maneuvered his way into the top 15 by the end of the race. “The night started off good, we had a fast Toyota Camry and were racing around a lot of the guys that finished in the top five — racing the track, biding our time and waiting until the sun went down,” said Kligerman, who has finished in the top 15 in six consecutive events. “After we made an adjustment on the first pit stop, we came out and were wrecking loose the next few runs. Eric Phillips (crew chief) and the rest of the guys on this team didn’t give up — they worked on it and at the end of the race it was probably a solid top-10 car, but it was too short of a race and we just didn’t have the track position. I made a mistake getting onto pit road and that hurt us — probably cost us a top 10 and I’m upset about that.” Kligerman, who rolled off from the 12th position, communicated to Phillips in the early stages that his Toyota Camry was a little tight. When the first caution of the race occurred on lap 24, he brought it down pit road where the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment. The No. 77 was scored in the 12th spot for the lap-27 restart, but by the time the third caution of the event occurred on lap 50, had fallen to the 15th spot as he reported that his car had turned to “wrecking loose.” The team took advantage of the caution to put on four fresh tires and make a wedge adjustment in an attempt to improve the handling for their young driver. Kligerman restarted from the 18th position on lap 54 and as the race proceeded caution free for the next 66 laps, ran 15th to 17th before preparing for the final pit stop of the night. On lap 110, Phillips summoned his car to pit road, but his young driver was unable to slow his car down in time to make the entry to pit road and was forced to circle the track one more time before e making his way to the over-the-wall crew. After a four-tire and fuel stop with another wedge adjustment was completed, the No. 77 car returned to the track scored one lap down in the 17th spot. A one-car accident slowed the field for the final time on lap 119. When lead-lap cars all committed to coming down pit road, Kligerman remained on the track to receive the “wave around” and returned to the lead lap. Staring at the tail end of the field in the 18th spot, the talented youngster was able to maneuver his way up to the 15th spot before the field took the checkered flag. KBM owner Kyle Busch drove his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Monster Energy Camry to his 56th career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory and fifth of 2013. Busch’s JGR teammates Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth finished second, third and fifth, respectively. Fourth-place finisher Joey Logano was the lone non-JGR driver in the top five. There were four caution periods totaling 17 laps. Eight drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead 10 times. Seven drivers failed to finish the 147-lap event. Kligerman, who ranks seventh in the championship point standings after nine races, and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team will enjoy a week off before participating in the History 300 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Saturday, May 25. Live television coverage of the 200-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
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