Parker Kligerman ran just inside the top 20 during the first half of the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway as he battled a loose-handling Camry.
The handling of the No. 77 Toyota improved with each adjustment that crew chief Eric Phillips made over the course of the first three pit stops and as the race moved into the second half Kligerman began surging through the field.
"I felt something strange in the left front just before the last restart and then about 10 laps into the run -- just as I was about to break into the top 10 -- a small fire broke out on the left side of the dash," Kligerman said. "My first reaction was to get to pit road, but I was on the outside lane and couldn't get down.
By the time there was an opening to the bottom lane the fire had diminished, so I decided to continue on. It flickered on and off over the course of the next 20 laps and then all of a sudden the car just shut off. It's disappointing, we struggled a little bit early in the race but Eric Phillips made some good adjustments and our No. 77 Camry really came to life that last run.
We've had a tough last couple of months, but nobody on this team is going to give up. We had a strong run at Chicago earlier this season and we'll head there next week confident that we can have another one."
The day got off to a promising start as Kligerman paced the lone practice session with a lap of 21.63 seconds. The No. 77 team was confident of earning a top-10 starting position, but Kligerman reported that his Camry was "a little too tight" and ended the qualifying session with the 12th best time.
By the time the field had made 10 green-flag laps, the Connecticut native had fallen outside the top 15. He was scored in the 17th position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 17. While the field was slowed, Kligerman communicated to Phillips that his Toyota was "really loose everywhere." With track position being important on the .75-mile tri-oval, Phillips elected to keep his driver on the track.
During the next green-flag run, the handling of the No. 77 worsened and the team fell just outside the top-20. Kligerman this time reported, "wrecking loose and no drive off." A debris caution on lap 67 would allow the team to make their first adjustments of the night. When pit road opened, the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop, inserting a spring rubber and making wedge and track bar adjustments in the process.
Kligerman took the lap-73 restart from the 21st position and quickly worked his way back inside the top 20. During the lengthy green-flag run he reported, "better all the way through, especially as the run continues." He had maneuvered his way up to the 17th spot when a one-car spin slowed the field for the third time.
After visiting pit road for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel, the No. 77 Camry restarted from the 14th spot when the field went back green on lap 138. Kligerman got stuck behind a slower car on the outside lane for the restart and by the time he was able to work into the inside land had subsided to the 19th position. He was scored 20th when debris on the track brought out the fourth caution of the night.
Phillips summoned his young driver to pit road where the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment. Kligerman took the lap 180 restart from the 19th spot, but the latest adjustment had made major improvements to the handling of his Camry and he began his march towards the front. After advancing up to the 11th spot, the electrical issue slowed his progress and he subsided to the 18th position. He ran around in the 18th spot for 30 laps hoping that the issue would disappear, but on lap 210 his Camry shut off and he ended the race in the garage.
Brad Keselwoski picked up his fifth Nationwide Series victory in 2013 and the 25th of his career. Brian Scott, who led the first 239 laps, finished 1.946 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot. Regan Smith finished third, Kyle Busch fourth and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were seven caution periods totaling 35 laps. Keselowski's late pass of Scott was the only lead change of the night. Kligerman was one of six drivers who failed to finish the 250-lap event.
Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 25 of 33 races complete, 148 points behind series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 fell one position in the owner's championship standings to 14th, 262 points behind the series-leading No. 22 team.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Sept. 14 for the Dollar General 300. Live television coverage of Saturday's 200-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.