ARCA Point Leader Parker Kligerman a Quick Study at Iowa Speedway NEWTON IA (7-3-09) - By the looks of things, you'd think Parker Kligerman was one of the most experienced ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers on tour. After all, the Penske Racing ...
ARCA Point Leader Parker Kligerman a Quick Study at Iowa Speedway
NEWTON IA (7-3-09) - By the looks of things, you'd think Parker Kligerman was one of the most experienced ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers on tour. After all, the Penske Racing development driver has earned three wins in his last four outings, and leads the points headed to Iowa Speedway for the Prairie Meadows 200 Saturday, July 11.
In reality, the 18-year-old Westport, Connecticut rookie is just that - a rookie in the truest sense. But don't tell that to Kligerman, who has nine top-10 finishes in 11 starts, most of which are top-fives. And like most tracks on the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series tour, they are all new to Kligerman. Case in point: Kligerman, after attending his high school graduation ceremony on a Friday night, boarded a plane bound for Mansfield, Ohio where he woke up at Mansfield Motorsports Park Saturday morning. He had never seen the challenging short track before. It didn't matter; Kligerman held off the hungry pack to win the Tim Richmond Memorial 200.
And of course, the same will be true at Iowa. Kligerman's never seen the place, nor did he participate in the open test at the Newton, Iowa short-track last Tuesday. It was originally on his schedule, but Penske Racing had other plans for Kligerman.
"I thought we were going to Iowa (for the test), but then we got the call that we were going to have to miss the test," said Kligerman. Penske Racing pulled the plug on the Iowa test in favor of a COT (Car of Tomorrow) two-day test at 'Little Rock', the new half-mile built behind the backstretch at Rockingham Speedway.
Kligerman has already been testing the COT car for Penske Racing out at the Proving Grounds, a five-mile oval test facility in Arizona. "We thought about doing a private test (at Iowa), but in the bigger scheme of things, it didn't work out for our team - Cunningham Motorsports. We'll just figure it out in practice."
Kligerman has become the master at figuring things out in short order. New to the circuit as he still is, he has no choice.
"I've learned that the car is never perfect. It can always be better. I think my open-wheel background has really helped. In the open-wheel cars some of the adjustments are more precise and you really have to focus on those intricate adjustments.
"In stock cars, I think some drivers learn to drive around the problem rather than go after it."
At any rate, and for whatever reasons, Kligerman wastes no time getting up to speed.
"Well it definitely helps when you're with Cunningham Motorsports. We usually unload so prepared; it makes my job easier. We usually go out in practice, get a feel for the track, and then focus on tuning the car later in the session so we're not scrambling in the race.
"Chris Carrier (his crew chief), with all his experience, has accelerated my learning curve. That's a big part of it; he's taught me so much that now I can give the kind of feedback that he's looking for ..... like if the rear shocks need more rebound, stuff like that.
"I really feel like we should be doing better than we are. As good as Cunningham Motorsports is, I should be better. We should have one more win.
"My approach is always the same - no expectations. We don't get too down and we don't get too excited.
"Ya know, we probably come to the track with the least amount of guys, but they're all the best at what they do. I have the support of everyone at Cunningham Motorsports - Briggs Cunningham, Kerry Scherer, Mark Gibson. They've all done so much for me and gave me this opportunity." And Kligerman is certainly making the most of his opportunity. And, no doubt, people are beginning to notice.
"Yah, people are starting to recognize me, which is cool. I usually don't have a very big autograph line at the tracks, but that changed at Mansfield, which is nice. I know Mr. Penske's been watching too; it's nice to know he's watching."
Kligerman will be moving from his Westport, Connecticut home to Charlotte, North Carolina in early August where he'll be closer to his team. He is also enrolled in UNC Charlotte where he starts his freshman year in college on August 24th, the day after the Allen Crowe 100 on the Springfield mile-dirt.
But first, it's off to Iowa for another ARCA RE/MAX Series adventure. The Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway is scheduled to go off Saturday, July 11 at 8:00 PM local time. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell precedes the race at 4:00 PM. The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the ARCA RE/MAX Series for an ARCA double-header with the IMTA 50 scheduled to go at 6:00 PM. The first on-track activity for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is a practice session on Friday, July 10 from 4:30 - 6:00 PM. The Star Mazda Series will join the race card on Friday with practice, qualifying and a race at 8:30 PM.