After a breakout 2012 season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Parker Kligerman graduates to a full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) for 2013.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Kligerman, whose resume includes five top-10 finishes across 18 career Nationwide Series starts, makes his KBM debut Saturday, driving the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
The Connecticut native also climbed behind the wheel of a Nationwide Series vehicle three times last season, finishing in the top 10 twice, including a career-best seventh-place finish in the July race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Also graduating to the Nationwide Series in 2013 is the man who will call the shots for Kligerman, crew chief Eric Phillips. The Illinois native ranks second on the all-time wins list in the Truck Series with 28 trips to victory lane in his nine seasons atop the pit box. Phillips, who joined KBM for its inaugural Truck Series season in 2010, guided the team's flagship No. 18 Tundra to 17 victories, 8 poles, 38 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes across 72 starts. Under his guidance, KBM became the first team since the Truck Series originated in 1995 to capture the owner's championship in its inaugural season.
The two Truck Series graduates will be looking to build upon the late-season surge that KBM's Nationwide Series program showed in its inaugural season. KBM totaled 1 win, 3 poles, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to an eighth-place finish in the owner's point standings in 2012. The team recorded all three of its poles, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes over the last 13 races of the season.
With a Truck Series win on a superspeedway last season, Kligerman heads to Daytona with confidence in his ability to make moves in the draft. A win on graduation day, on NASCAR's biggest stage, would go a long way in proving that the talented youngster belongs as a full-time Nationwide Series driver.
Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Bandit Chippers Camry:
What is it going to be like driving full-time in the Nationwide Series after running partial schedules in the past? "As a young driver coming up, in any of the top three series, you're looking for one opportunity and that is to be full-time. I had sprinkled events in the Nationwide Series the last three years -- had a lot of success, but was never able to break in full-time. I was able to run full-time in the Truck Series and I feel like that has led me to the point where -- with almost winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year, finishing fifth and fighting for wins week in and week out -- I felt like moving up to the Nationwide Series was the next step in my career and hopefully one day driving in the Sprint Cup Series on Sundays."
Have you set any goals for 2013? "I think with it being both mine and Eric's first time in the Nationwide Series and it being just the second season for KBM in the series, I feel like our main goal is to improve upon last season. They finished eighth in owner's points last season, so our goal is to be going to Homestead in the top five in points. If we are able to do that, I think that we will have had a very successful season. Garner that with some wins and we would definitely be proud of the effort that we put in as a stand-alone team competing at the second highest level of our sport."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 NNS Bandit Chippers Camry
What will be the biggest adjustment you have as a crew chief moving up to the Nationwide Series? "Being prepared logistically to have enough stuff done and ready to go for the first five races will be the biggest thing. We will be in Daytona almost a week, then off to Phoenix, straight to Vegas, come home to Bristol and then back out to California. In the Truck Series you had some time after Daytona to get organized, where here you have to be ready right from the get go."
Have you sat down with Parker and established goals for the season? "Our goals these first five races are to be consistent, finish all the laps and not dig ourselves a hole. With this being both of our first full seasons in the Nationwide Series, we know that there will be a learning curve, so the most important thing is that we need to try and limit mistakes early in the season so that we are in a position to achieve our second goal, which is to finish top five in points. Considering where our Nationwide Series program finished last year and the level of competition this year, I know that is a big goal, but I think it is definitely attainable."
Kyle Busch Motorsports