KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 3, 2009) – Parker Kligerman, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 16th in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, marking a successful NASCAR racing debut for the 19-year-old Westport, Conn. native.
During qualifying on Saturday morning, Kligerman made a lasting first impression by capturing the pole position for his first-ever NASCAR race. Leading the field of competitors to the green flag, Kligerman and the No. 22 team were focused on completing the race and learning as much as possible from the experience.
Once racing action began, Kligerman led the first seven laps before he radioed that the Penske Truck Rental machine was tight-handling on the exit of the turns. Kligerman came to pit road for service during green flag pit stops on lap 54 while running in the 13th spot. After rejoining the race, an untimely caution flag came out before the pit stop cycle was complete. As a result, Kligerman was posted in the 18th position, one lap down to the leaders.
Kligerman returned to pit lane during the next caution in hopes of improving the handling on the Penske Truck Rental Dodge. He lined up for the race restart on lap 81 in 22nd place and quickly advanced into the “lucky dog” position as the first car running one lap down. When the caution flag waved on lap 107 for debris, Kligerman was awarded his lap back and prepared to return to lead lap racing.
Kligerman came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted the race from the 16th spot and quickly reported that the No. 22 machine was now running loose on the exit of the turns due to the adjustments. The No. 22 team pitted again when the caution flag came out on lap 137. A series of late-race cautions ensued, and though the team did not make additional pit stops, Kligerman reported that the handling on Penske Truck Rental Dodge was much improved in the waning laps of the race.
When the checkered flag waved, Kligerman crossed the finish line in the 16th position, as he successfully completed his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race and accomplished the goals the team had set forth for the afternoon. Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier finished the race in sixth place.
“We accomplished our goals for the race and came away with a respectable finish,” said Kligerman. “Although I think we could’ve done a little better, I think the day was a success. It’s was a lot of fun to be out there racing with some of the best drivers in the sport. The level of competition is high out there and I feel like I learned a lot and hopefully gained the respect of my fellow competitors along the way.”
Kligerman is scheduled to attempt to qualify for the season-finale Nationwide Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21 with the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental team. In the meantime, he is focused on winning the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship in the final race of the season on October 11, 2009 at Rockingham Speedway. Kligerman, who has a series-high eight victories this year, currently trails leader Justin Lofton by a mere 15 points.