No. 77 Team gains two spots in owner's points with ninth consecutive top 15
Parker Kligerman was running ninth in the closing stages of the DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton when he felt the right front tire start to wear on his No. 77 Toyota Camry. The young driver showed veteran awareness and began to conserve the tire and fell back two positions to 11th, where it appeared he would finish, until he ran out of gas on the final lap and coasted around to the stripe in the 14th position. It was the ninth consecutive top-15 finish for Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) Nationwide Series Program this season and helped the team move up two positions to eighth in the 2013 owner's championship standings.
"We ended up finishing 14th in our Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Camry, but it was a tumultuous day," said Kligerman, who remained sixth in the Nationwide Series championship standings. "We got ourselves in a position to be probably a seventh-place car, but on that last run with the green race track after the rain, we chorded our right front tire. We were holding onto 11th, until the last lap when we ran out of fuel. So it was multiple circumstances that held us back, but thanks to Bolle, ButlerBuilt Seats, Bell, Toyota, Nationwide Insurance -- everyone that makes this possible. We'll be back at it in Michigan and hopefully be 13 spots better."
The Connecticut native swapped back and forth between the 12th and 13th positions during a long green-flag run. In the earlier part of the run he radioed to crew chief Eric Phillips that his car was "still loose on throttle," but "came to him" the longer the run went. Green-flag stops began on lap 130 and Kligerman was summoned to his pit stall on lap 134. The crew put on four fresh tires, filled the car with fuel and executed wedge and track bar adjustments during the stop.
When the No. 77 Camry returned to the track it was scored in the 13th position, with the race-leading No. 3 car just a few car lengths behind it. Kligerman was able to hold off the leader and was the last car on the lead lap when the third caution of the race occurred on lap 150. With just over 10 laps on the tires, Phillips elected for a right-side only stop and his driver took the ensuing restart from the 10th spot.
The talented youngster remained in the 10th position when a four-car accident in Turn 2 slowed the field for the fourth time on lap 155. Shortly after the caution, heavy rains moved in and the race was red flagged for over an hour. After the track was dry, competitors returned to their cars and the field went back green on lap 168. The final caution of the race came out on lap 174 with the Toyota Racing Camry in the ninth spot.
With just over 30 laps remaining Kligerman remained ninth in the running order and had reeled in a pack of cars that consisted of the fifth through eighth-place competitors. Shortly after catching the pack, he communicated that with all the rubber being washed off the track his car was very tight and felt a sensation that the right front tire was beginning wear excessively. The young driver showed veteran poise and instead of pushing it and ending up with a blown tire, he went into conservation mode knowing that surrendering a few spots was a better alternative than a wrecked race car.
As the field took the white flag, the No. 77 Camry was in the 11th position, several car lengths in front of the next competitor. As he drove through Turns 1 and 2, Kligerman alerted his crew that his Toyota was out of fuel and all he could do was slowly coast around the rest of the track. By the time he crossed the start-finish line, he had subsided to the 14th spot.
Trevor Bayne picked up his first Nationwide Series win of 2013, his second victory across 97 career starts in NASCAR's second division. Austin Dillon led a race-high 207 laps, but surrendered the lead late and crossed the strip 2.023 seconds behind Bayne in the runner-up spot. Former Sprint Cup Series drivers Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. finished third and fourth, respectively, while rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were five caution periods totaling 31 laps. Four drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead 12 times. Eleven drivers failed to finish the 250-lap event.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Bandit Chippers Racing team head to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for the Alliance Truck Parts 250.