MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Parker Kligerman and his No. 77 Bandit Chippers Racing team head to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Saturday's Alliance Truck Parts 250 looking to continue chipping their way through the NASCAR Nationwide Series owner's point standings.
The single-car team's consistency has led them to being a fixture in the top 10 in owner's points this season, despite battling week in and week out against teams with multiple entries from Sprint Cup Series organizations.
The No. 77 squad is the only single-car team ranked inside the top 10 and in just the team's second year competing in the Nationwide Series have found themselves battling amongst the series perennial powerhouses, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing and Richard Childress Racing, all who have at least two teams ranked inside the top 10 in series owner's points.
Not only is the team battling fierce competition, but in his first full-time Nationwide Series campaign, Kligerman finds himself in the mix for the driver's championship with several former Sprint Cup Series regulars.
The Connecticut native, who currently ranks sixth in the driver's point standings, is one of only two competitors (Justin Allgaier, third) in the top seven in points to have never made a Sprint Cup Series start.
The top two in points, Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr., each have over 100 career starts in NASCAR's premier division. Elliott Sadler (fifth in points) has over 400 career starts and Brian Vickers (seventh in points) has 268 career starts and even youngster Austin Dillon has made six career starts in the top division.
If Kligerman hopes to bring home a trophy in Bandit's backyard and make a move in the points standings, he'll have to chip his way through some heavy competition again Saturday, including a six-time winner in the series this season who also happens to be his boss - Kyle Busch.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:
Are you excited about racing in Bandit Chippers' backyard this weekend? "I'm really excited about this weekend -- we've had some of our best runs this year with Bandit Chippers on our No. 77 Toyota Camry and we are bringing the car that we finished fourth with at California. Bandit Chippers headquarters is a couple hours from the track -- I'll head over there on Thursday afternoon to take a look around and meet some of the employees.
They have a large group coming out to the race on Saturday -- hopefully we can give them something to cheer about. We've made some changes and the last four or five races have shown more speed, just for a multitude of reasons we haven't been able to get the finishes that we deserved.
We had a really good test at Kentucky Speedway last week and I think that we can take a few things that we learned there and incorporate them into our package for this weekend. We're ready to put the Bandit Chippers Camry up front and be in the mix for our first win. With all those Bandit folks in attendance, it would be a great time to get our first victory."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry:
Your team participated in a two-day test last week at Kentucky Speedway. How helpful is that to a smaller team? "It is huge for this team, especially for myself and Parker -- we are still both basically rookies in this series and with these cars. It gave us the opportunity to work on our car with multiple sets of tires available, which is something we don't get to do in practice on a normal race weekend. That test last week will be a huge benefit to our mile-and-a-half program moving forward."
Is there anything that you learned at the test that can benefit you this weekend at Michigan even though it's a 2-mile track?
Definitely -- before they repaved Michigan, it was actually very similar to Kentucky and you were able to run a similar setup. Kentucky has gotten rougher the last few years and Michigan is really smooth now, so you have to make a few minor adjustments. Some of the front end stuff will be a little bit different, but the overall package will be pretty similar."
Kyle Busch Motorsports