Just before the Camping World Truck Series hit the newly repaved Michigan International Speedway, Red Horse Racing announced the return of a third truck with Parker Kligerman behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota Tundra.
The Connecticut native had been racing for Brad Keselowski Racing for a year and a half before the two decided to split.
“At the end of the day we weren’t achieving what we wanted to achieve by winning races. We thought we had the potential to win races but we were going to have the resources to do so and they were getting better but, being at the place we were at, it was going to be too disappointing to fall back and so I think for Brad in the long term future and for the long term future of my racing career, it just made sense for us to go our separate ways,” Kligerman said in response to his situation with BKR.
Kligerman’s weekend at Michigan was quite eventful, to say the least.
Roger Penske enabled the 22-year-old to practice and qualify the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger during the Michigan weekend while Sam Hornish Jr. was racing his Nationwide Series car in Montreal. Kligerman has a contract with Penske Racing, where he races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in on a part-time basis.
“I look at that and say it’s a new opportunity and with that hopefully you take the best from the opportunity and go out to perform in the Cup car and hopefully people notice and it will lead to more opportunities with Penske Racing this year,” Kligerman said on behalf of his experience over the race weekend at Michigan.
Kligerman’s Nationwide Series ride is in jeopardy, though. Though his contract with Penske has nothing to do with his release from BKR, he stated that at this time, he has no Nationwide Series raced scheduled for the remainder of the season in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger.
“Well I never actually had races scheduled they were always to be determined and I was granted the races on a race-by-race basis. There was a lot of people that didn’t know that every race at Penske Racing was on a race-by-race basis. I was never promised any races. At the end of the day I wanted to make the best of the opportunity and to get another opportunity. I’m not upset in anyway and hopefully the next thing that opens up those races will be available throughout the rest of the year which would be a great opportunity,” Kligerman said.
Whether or not that opportunity will come with Penske Racing remains a mystery especially after it was thought that Kligerman would run at least half the schedule, according to several media outlets before the season.
It was recently announced that Ryan Blaney will take over that ride for three races at Iowa, Richmond and Kentucky, according to a press release. Those three races would have likely been Kligerman’s. He made his disappointment clear, yet he explained how he is fortunate for the possibilities he may have in the future.
As for his current situation with RHR, he expects to be in the run for the championship after finishes of fourth, second and fourth in his first three starts under the leadership of Chad Kendrick.
“We did a great job right off the bat and he’s great to work with. He’s laid back just like myself and the two of us are able to focus on the racetruck. There is nothing that tells me we can’t win races on a regular basis,” Kligerman said on his building experience with his new crew chief.
Kligerman’s new atmosphere at RHR comes with not only a new crew chief, but also new teammates in veteran driver Todd Bodine and series points leader Timothy Peters.
“Todd’s been a friend of mine for about a year now and he actually helped me get over to RHR and I can’t thank him and his crew chief Rick Gay enough for providing us the truck which was going to be their Atlanta race truck. It was really a big help. Timothy Peters and Butch Hilton have been very nice and lovely and are open to ideas and open to making RHR better and I think at the end of the day. I think overall it’s been great for all three of us to bring ideas on the table,” Kligerman said as his new teammates welcome him to the team as a family member more than just another teammate.
Building from their first three races together will be a key step for Kligerman and Kendrick as they search for their first win together. That first win was going to come in his second start with the team at Michigan but fuel mileage played a large factor as Nelson Piquet Jr. picked up his first career win.
“Well, at the end of the day, this is a great team with a great group of guys and we were able to work well together and able to perform and we probably would have won the race if it weren’t for fuel mileage. I thought we won for a while but I didn’t know about the fuel mileage situation. We’re here to win races and win this championship,” Kligerman said after his fourth place finish at Michigan in his first start with the team.
The team doesn’t have sponsorship for the remainder of the season besides their manufacturer, Toyota, which is on each of their three trucks. But it will not stop them from running for the championship, Kligerman said.
With such a hectic schedule, settling into place at RHR, getting to know his new crew members, showing what he is capable of and much more on his mind, all of this can easily become a distraction in the closing weeks of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule.
As of now, Kligerman doesn’t have a contract signed for the 2013 race season. His contract with Penske Racing as a development driver expires at the end of the season where he will officially become a free agent across the sport.
This could mean the 22-year-old driver could take his attributes elsewhere if he can find sponsorship to bring along with him. A possible destination could be to remain with RHR as a driver in the Camping World Truck Series. But, he can make the jump to the Nationwide Series and vacate an open seat such as the No. 7 car when Danica Patrick goes to Sprint Cup Series racing, leaving that ride free to anyone who catches the eye of team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kligerman can also end up with a different truck series team with the likes of Turner Motorsports, who has raced with blank quarterpanels on several occasions. He may even get a Cup Series ride if he’s willing to ride around the back of the pack for a team such as Front Row Motorsports. But, all of this is just speculation. He doesn’t even know where he may end up at the end of the day.
“You’re always working towards next year with contracts and having a set deal but my focus right now is on winning a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with Red Horse Racing and win races and we’ll go from there,” Kligerman said.