No. 77 Camry unable to finish race for first time in '13.
Entering Friday night's Food City 250 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Parker Kligerman and his Toyota Racing team led the NASCAR Nationwide Series with laps completed and had been running at the finish of all 22 races.
Unfortunately, while running 14th on lap 165, Brian Vickers got into the outside of the Turn 4 wall and just as it appeared that Kligerman was going to make it past him unscathed, Vickers shot down off the wall and clipped the right-rear of the No. 77 machine.
The contact sent Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) young driver hard into the frontstretch wall and then he went caroming into the inside wall and came to rest at the entrance of Turn 1. With major damage to both the front and rear end, the No. 77 was unable to continue and relegated to a season-worst 35th-place finish. It was the first time in 2013 that the team was not running at the finish of a race.
""We fell a lap down early -- Kyle (Busch) was setting such a fast pace and we were able to fight back and run just outside the top-10, although a lap down," Kligerman said. "Felt like we had a car that we could get back in the top-10 and just biding our time trying to get back on the lead lap.
The 7 (Regan Smith) went up and wrecked the lap before in the wall -- in (turns) three and four and then for whatever reason the 5 (Kasey Kahne) and the 20 (Brian Vickers) had the same thing happen to them. It was like there was something on the race track.
My spotter was yelling to go low and I went as low as I could and the 20 clipped us in the right-rear. Pretty hard hit, but thanks to Butler seats for their safe seats and all my guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports for building safe race cars -- we'll go get them next week."
Kligerman earned the 10th starting spot for the 23rd race of the season, but in the early stages reported that his Camry was extremely loose as he fell back to the 15th spot by lap 15. While the young driver was battling an ill-handling Toyota, his owner, Kyle Busch, was setting a blistering pace and put the No. 77 team a lap down on lap 58. Shortly after, debris on the backstretch slowed the field for the first time and gave Phillips his first opportunity to improve the handling of his Camry.
When pit road opened, Kligerman brought his Toyota to the attention of the over-the-wall crew who administered a four-tire and fuel stop while making both trackbar and wedge adjustments. The KBM machine returned to the track scored one lap down in the 15th position for the lap-72 restart.
During the next green-flag run, the young driver reported minor gains to the handling of his Camry, "Better in the center, but still loose off." He ran in the 15th spot battling to be in position for the "Lucky Dog," but came up just short when the next caution flew on lap 105. This time around Phillips elected for a two-tire stop in an effort to gain track position and once again made both wedge and trackbar adjustments.
Kligerman took the ensuing restart from the 14th spot, once again he reported gains to the handling, but he remained 14th one spot away from being in "The Lucky Dog" position when the next caution occurred on lap 153. When pit road opened, the over-the-wall crew gave their young driver four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel and returned him to the track scored one lap down in the 14th position.
Four laps later as the battles on the track intensified, Regan Smith appeared to have cut a tire in a three-wide battle. The field scrambled as he slowed on the track and hit the wall one lap later. Vickers also hit the wall just behind Smith and when he was unable to hold it against the wall, came down into Kligerman's path and ended the No. 77 Toyota Racing team's night.
Busch picked up his 60th career Nationwide Series win, his sixth at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" and 120th across NASCAR's top three divisions. Brad Keselwoski finished 0.831 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot. Austin Dillon finished third, Justin Allgaier fourth and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were four caution periods totaling 32 laps. Two drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead twice. Six drivers failed to finish the 23rd event of 2013.
Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 23 of 33 races complete, 105 points behind series points leader Austin Dillon. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 lost one position and now ranks 13th in the owner's championship standings, 213 points behind the series-leading No. 22 team.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Aug. 31 for the Great Clips - Grit Chips 300. Live television coverage of Saturday's 195-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.