By Kelly Crandall (CONCORD, N.C.) – Parker Kligerman’s 2013 rookie Nationwide Series season will go down as bittersweet.
While rookies are supposed, and expected to make mistakes, for him there have been one too many. Charlotte Motor Speedway played host to the 30th stop of the NNS season and Friday, one of the deeper thinking drivers in the garage put it all out on the line about how things could have and perhaps should have been different.
“We’ve had just too many mistakes this year to put ourselves where we’d like to be, which is about fifth in points,” he said. “We’re on a smaller budget than a lot of teams are on, there’s still maybe three or four teams that are on a higher budget than us, but to really overachieve you can’t have the mistakes that we’ve made this year.”
The No. 77 Toyota team out of Kyle Busch Motorsports graduated to the next level from the Camping World Truck Series. Together they’re living and learning, entering the year with goals that some might have looked upon as a bit ambitious. A championship was a far out thought Kligerman admitted, but top five in points and winning sounded about right.
“They [KBM] already had things in place from last year with the 54 [Kyle Busch] being here that kind of accelerated the idea that you didn’t need to go out there and build 20 new cars, or have the large budget you need compete with the other guys,” Kligerman said about his team.
“So, if you minimize you’re mistakes, you’re consistent and in this series it takes really about a 9.4 average to win the championship, that’s basically saying try to be in the top 10 every week, you could contend on a lesser budget. We missed that mark, I think our average finish is like a 13.4, so it’s definitely disheartening but we still have about one spot in the points that we can get higher.”
That’s not going to happen though, with those ever appearing mistakes Kligerman seemed to encounter. The ones that always appeared at the most inopportune times.
“Just one weekend ago. Kansas. We had probably one of the fastest cars there. Easily second or third fastest, the 7 [Regan Smith] was maybe the only car that could contend with us,” Kligerman said about a race he ran, led and finished up front.
“We passed the whole field twice and came in the last stop in third [place], come out first because we had two tires and dropped a lug nut. Fell all the way back to 28th again and ended up seventh.”
Story of his season because before Kansas there were the road courses and restrictor plate races, all of which Kligerman felt he was in the right position to capitalize. Then something would go haywire. He had top 10s in four of those six races and he led a combine 25 laps but has nothing to show for it.
Meaning entering Friday night’s Dollar General 300, Kligerman was still searching for that first career win. Another solid top 10 keeps him sitting 10th in points, not out of reach to overtake those in front of him, like ninth place Kyle Larson. Giving Kligerman even more to shoot for with four races remaining, plenty of time to continue overachieving.
“We’re still overachieving considering our budget level, there’s about three or four behind us and then if we beat the 32 [Kyle Larson] that’d be about five. We’d still be overachieving for what we have, but definitely, you always want more, you want to get where the goals you set beginning of the year,” he said. “I felt like a fifth place in points was a possibility and we just let it slip from us.”
And that’s about all Kligerman knows. As he finishes out his first NNS season what comes next isn’t set in stone. According to the driver, whether he remains at KBM, moves on or up, it’s all still being discussed.
“The intention for doing Nationwide and Trucks is to get to Cup. That’s the top, that’s where we all want to be and obviously if there’s opportunities up there you’ve got entertain them,” he said. “We’ll see the coming weeks, the coming months if that’s a possibility.”
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