MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 14, 2013) - With series sponsor Nationwide Insurance using this weekend's inaugural visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington to raise awareness and funds for Nationwide Children's Hospital, many drivers will share the experience with "champion patients" from the pediatric hospital located in nearby Columbus, Ohio. The hood of Parker Kligerman's No. No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry will feature a picture of nine-year-old Payton Julian from Mansfield, Ohio, who in his own words "kicked cancer's butt" after defeating Wilms' Tumor, a type of kidney cancer that occurs in children, while a patient at the facility in 2008. Julian will be on hand and get to be Kligerman's guest at the driver's meeting, driver introductions and sit on the No. 77 team's pit box during the 90-lap race.
Kligerman, who's racing teeth were cut on road courses in the Skip Barber and Formula Renault Series, has turned heads in the first two road-course events this season. The Connecticut native qualified third, led four laps and finished third at Road American in Elkhart Lake Wisc. in June and last weekend qualified ninth, led seven laps and finished sixth in a field that included several Sprint Cup Series drivers at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The former road racer's average finish of 4.5 is equal to that of Justin Allgaier and Brian Vickers and the trio rank second to Sam Hornish Jr.'s average result of 3.5.
With Mid-Ohio being the final road-course race of the season, Kligerman can be more aggressive this week as he seeks the first win of his Nationwide Series career. While it isn't on the official agenda, he hopes to be celebrating with Julian in victory lane after Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Then, the two can say they "kicked Mid-Ohio's butt" together.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Bandit Chippers Camry:
With your success this season on the road courses, do you head to Mid-Ohio with a lot of confidence?
"For sure -- we had a really strong run and showed a lot of speed at Road America and followed that up last weekend with another strong run at Watkins Glen. There were a lot of Cup guys in the race at Watkins Glen, so I knew going in with all of the laps that those guys have logged around that place they would have an advantage. As the weekend progressed, we got faster and faster as I learned how to attack the track and I think if it wasn't for the way the cautions fell that we would've had another top five run. Now, we head to Mid-Ohio with a lot of confidence -- we've got the same Bandit Chippers Camry that we've raced at both Road American and Watkins Glen and I think we have a legitimate shot to win on Saturday."
With your roots in road-course racing how excited are you about going to Mid-Ohio?
"I'm really looking forward to it, just as I was about my first race at Road America. Mid-Ohio is one of the great American road courses - it has such a rich history. Eric and all the guys on this No. 77 team have built really fast race cars for the road course races and I expect we'll have another fast one this weekend. Mid-Ohio is a very technical course -- you need to have a car that transitions well and it provides a pretty good amount of braking points -- so I think my background on road courses will really help me out. With it being just down the road from Nationwide's headquarters it is a big deal for everyone in this series. Nationwide Insurance is doing a lot of cool things to help raise awareness for the Nationwide Children's Hospital and I'm honored to have one of their "champion patients" on the hood of my Bandit Chippers Camry. It will be cool to meet Payton on Saturday and be able to show him around. From what I've read, he's overcome a lot in his life and is an inspiration to us all."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry:
How does Mid-Ohio compare to the other two road courses on the Nationwide Series schedule? "It is a little bit different than Road America and a lot different than Watkins Glen. The Glen is the superspeedway of road courses -- you have to carry a lot of speed and it's all about momentum. Mid-Ohio is very technical -- it's going to be a lot about changing directions because there are a lot of low and mid-speed corners. I'm really excited about this weekend -- I think it is another race where we can excel. Parker has done a really good job on the road courses and we've had fast cars. This is a new race track for a lot of people in the garage, but I've been there a few times with the Trans-Am Series -- hopefully that can give us a leg up."
Parker Kligerman's No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry:
KBM-01: The No. 77 Toyota Racing team will unload the first-ever Nationwide Series car built in the Kyle Busch Motorsports Chassis Shop, KBM-01. It is the same Toyota that Kligerman led seven laps with en route to a sixth-place finish in last week's road-course race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The Camry also qualified third, led four laps and finished third at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. in June. In 2012, KBM-01 produced top-10 finishes in all three road course events in 2012 and also finished 11th in the March race at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.
Kyle Busch Motorsports