Parker Kligerman was on the cusp of a top-five finish
Parker Kligerman was on the cusp of a top-five finish, battling side-by-side with Brian Vickers for the sixth spot in the closing laps of the Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta when Cole Whitt unsuccessfully tried to make things three-wide and sent the No. 77 Camp Horsin' Around Camry into the outside wall down the frontstretch. Unable to finish the race due to the extensive damage, Kligerman and his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) crew were relegated to a 29th-place finish.
Kligerman started Saturday night's race from the 11th spot and had advanced into the ninth spot when the competition caution slowed the field for the first time on lap 26. The 23-year-old communicated that his Camry was "pretty tight" during the run and when pit road opened, he was given a fresh set of right side tires and a full tank of fuel. He returned to the track scored in the eighth spot for the lap-30 restart.
Shortly after the restart, Justin Allgaier dove to the inside of Kligerman and got loose underneath him. The No. 31 shot up the track and pushed the No. 77 into the rubbish near the outside wall. By the time that the talented youngster gathered his Camp Horsin' Around Toyota he had fallen back to the 23rd spot. When a two car accident occurred on lap 38, KBM's Camry was scored in the 20th spot.
Crew chief Eric Phillips summoned his young driver to pit road, where the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment. Kligerman took the lap-41 restart from the 25th spot and by the time the third caution of the race flew on lap 61 advanced up to the 16th spot. Still reporting that his Camry was "tight center and off," the team made another four-tire and fuel stop and another round of adjustments.
As the race approached the halfway mark, the Camp Horsin' Around Camry ran just outside the top 10. Fluid on the track slowed the field for the fourth time on lap 106 and once again the No. 77 team elected to pit for four fresh tires and a trackbar adjustment. The crew returned their young driver to the track scored in the 12th position for the ensuing restart.
On lap 125, Kligerman broke back into the top 10 for the first time since his incident with Allgaier on lap 31. The Connecticut native had maneuvered his way into the eighth spot just before the sixth caution of the race occurred on lap 163. He reported that his Toyota was "still really tight and got tighter as the run went along." Looking to improve track position for the closing laps, Phillips called for a two-tire stop. With lead lap cars on varying strategies, Kligerman took the lap-172 restart from the ninth spot.
The 23-year-old driver got hung out on the restart and had lost one position when the seventh caution slowed the field on lap 175. On the ensuing restart, Kligerman made a strong charge on the outside and by the time the field crossed the stripe one lap later he had advanced into the sixth spot. He was in a side-by-side battle for that position when a one-car spin slowed the field on lap 182. NASCAR officials radioed that the No. 77 Camp Horsin' Around Camry would be scored in the seventh spot behind the 20 car for the restart. Shortly after the field went back to green-flag conditions, Whitt ended the team's bid for a top-five finish and caused extensive damage to the team's Toyota.
Ryan Blaney picked up his first career Nationwide Series victory in just his 15th series start. Austin Dillon finished 2.017 seconds behind Blaney in the runner-up spot. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton and NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. were fourth and fifth respectively. Alex Bowman, driving a KBM Chassis, rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were nine caution periods totaling 44 laps. Six drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead six times. Twelve drivers failed to finish the 200-lap event.
Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 27 of 33 races complete, 179 points behind Hornish Jr. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 team ranks 13th in the owner's championship standings, 302 points behind the series-leading No. 22 team.
The No. 77 Toyota Racing team heads to Dover (Del.) International Speedway Sept. 28 for race No. 28 on the schedule. Live television coverage of Saturday's 200-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.