Parker Kligerman put his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Camry in the third starting position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona.
How was your qualifying lap? "That was a great lap for the Bandit Chippers Camry. Eric Phillips (crew chief) and the guys -- this is more about them than the driver. It's their hard work over the off-season that puts these cars out front. It is so much more about them. The drivers -- we're monkeys out there they say. We come to our own in the race supposedly. I'm proud of these guys and everyone here. This is such a new team and such a new deal. I got out of the car after the first practice and I turned to my interior guy -- he's new and this is his first time doing interiors. Our car chief -- this is his first time as a car chief. It's Eric's first time being a crew chief in the Nationwide Series. There's only one guy left over from the team last year. I said, 'There's a lot of new.' I've got new helmets, new seats, new everything -- it's just a lot of new out there. These guys are doing a great job, we're gelling real quick and we're excited about tomorrow. We had a great practice with our other Toyota Camry teammate Alex Bowman and we're just looking forward to this race. It's going to be a fun time."
How will you approach the tandem drafting? "At the end of the day, working with another Toyota Camry is the biggest thing for us. They are automatic teammates in a lot of ways. Alex (Bowman) and the RAB Racing team -- we worked really well together in practice -- we were able to do like 20 or 25 laps together just switching on and off -- doing the tandem together. Since I've never raced tandem, it helps. Come the end of the race, it's going to be about who you can go with and when and as quickly as you can. A big part of this race is going to be able to use that tandem to your advantage to stay out of trouble."
What impact could hip-hop artists visiting NASCAR races have on the sport? "The biggest thing we fight in our sport right now and everybody knows this is that we have to find the younger generation. I think any sport and any TV entity right now is fighting to find itself a portion of the 18 to 24-year old market. Obviously the rap music industry in a huge portion of that and obviously the urban market is something that NASCAR has struggled to expand into. Having those guys come out and expose themselves to NASCAR and maybe talk about it in one of their rap songs would be cool. Those sorts of things are things that just put us out in pop culture and puts us in front of those eyes -- maybe if you get in front of 10 eyes and three of them come to the track then that's three more then you had before. I think it's all a good thing and hopefully they will enjoy fast cars going in circles."
Do you think the Cup drivers in the field will dominate this race? "Superspeedway racing is 90 percent protecting yourself. Honestly, if we never lead a lap until the last lap then I could care less. If we never even run in the top-20 until the last lap, I could car care less. The idea that you have to be up front or you have to be in a certain position in the superspeedway race is not really true. I feel like it's about running your own race for 90 percent of it and then hopefully you've learned enough and put yourself with enough people and in position to say, 'Okay, here with are with five to go, I've got a partner and I'm going to push him and we're going to go win this race.' Experience or not, anyone can be in the position if you play it right."
What did you learn about yourself as you moved up in the sport? "I lost my high school girlfriend over that time -- I was very confident, maybe cocky back then. There's a lot of things that as you come up through the sport that as a person you grow or you don't grow. As a competitor you grow or you don't grow. I made a lot of mistakes and there's no doubt about it. I was probably put in some positions that I shouldn't have been in because I made those mistakes, but thankfully I've had a lot of people that believed in me -- had a lot of opportunities and when I had that opportunity to change the course of those mistakes, I did. I think that's been the biggest part of my career. I think you saw last year halfway through the season I left the Truck team fifth in points -- who does that? Who has that happen? But was able to go to a better situation, prove that we were better and go fight for a championship for two teams over 22 races. I thought that was impressive. That was something that gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to become part of the Toyota family, who as I said, someone who believed in me after those races. This opportunity has come about because of that and I'm confident because of that and every time I can go out there and be successful in different situations with different race teams it gives me more confidence that I'm doing the right things."
ELLIOTT SADLER, No. 11 OneMain Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 6th
How does your race car handle? "Our OneMain Financial car drove good today. It was good yesterday in practice. We got it good and comfortable and that's what you're going to need tomorrow with the style of drafting that the Nationwide cars do and we feel pretty good about it. We're going to be somewhere up near the front so we should get a pretty decent pit selection. We'll take it and go and do the best job we can with it."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 7th
How was your qualifying lap? "The lap was fine. Doing what you can to get around here as quick as you can. The Monster Energy Camry is really good in race trim so it's just a matter of getting it qualified solidly in the show. The guys did a good job. The Camry will be good for tomorrow."
How different is racing the Nationwide car versus the Cup car? "They're totally different and they are what they are -- you're not given much opportunity to decide. You kind of have what you got. The Nationwide car -- they are their own animal in their respective right. Same as the Cup stuff. I think the guys now are starting to see more on the Cup side that they like the Nationwide cars because they're able to pass. You can race a little bit more, you can push a little bit more and it's easier to get to the back of the guy in front of you and all that versus what we're fighting on the Cup side right now."
ALEX BOWMAN, No. 99 Florida Lottery Toyota Camry, RAB Racing Starting Position: 8th
How was your qualifying lap? "The lap was better than we were expecting, I think. We'll hopefully end up somewhere inside the top-10 with that. We were expecting around 18th, but everybody at RAB Racing has done a really good job. Chris Rice (crew chief) has been awesome to work with. It's really cool to have Florida Lottery on the car this week and just really pumped up to be in the Nationwide Series. It's been a lot of fun so far and hopefully have some good races this year."
Have you picked a partner to tandem race with? "Yeah, myself and Parker Kligerman did a lot of tandeming yesterday and got our switches down and hopefully we'll be lined up in front and behind each other. That would work out really well and hopefully we can stay right around each other and hook up during the race and go to the front."
MATT KENSETH, No. 18 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 9th
How was your qualifying lap? "It was pretty uneventful. The Nationwide cars, running by yourself and the qualifying lap is about as easy as it gets. It was okay. Our speed was about where I thought it would be. Looks like we're pretty much right behind Kyle (Busch) there, so that should work out well."
Can you learn anything from the Nationwide race that could help you in Sunday's Daytona 500? "The cars are totally different. I always think racing on Saturday is fun and I don't know how much it helps for Sunday's race, but this kind of racing might help less than the rest of them because over here you are still kind of tandem and tied up and pushing each other and over there you're not so much. It probably doesn't make quite as big a difference here."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 20th
How do you feel about your starting position? "It's a superspeedway so we'll sort it all out once we get going. I've mostly been working with Elliott (Sadler) in the tandem draft and it's gone well."