Toyota Racing – Parker Kligerman
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Daytona Media Day – February 13, 2018
Gaunt Brothers Racing driver Parker Kligerman was made available to the media in Daytona:
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 96 Toyota Camry, Gaunt Brothers Racing
Can you describe how this all came together to try and qualify for the Daytona 500?
“Marty Gaunt has been a huge supporter of mine the last year and a half. I feel like I get along with him because we have very similar ideas about how to create a team. I’ve worked with him before back when I was at Swan Racing and with his engine company, so I think it was sort of a natural position to end up where we are now where he’s trying to grow this Gaunt Brothers Racing team. I’d say what excites me about what he’s doing is he’s doing it right. You see guys that come in here and they try to be big time immediately or they try to go over their head with everything they’re doing, and he has decided we’re doing quality over quantity. We’re picking the races we feel like we can be successful at and we’re going to do races that are going to give us the best attention so we can attract the best sponsors and that sort of thing. I think every decision he’s made is the same decisions I would make if I was making a Cup team. I think that’s what excites me about being here. The opportunity is tremendous for a guy like myself that last year I watched the Daytona 500 and it was four years since I’ve been in the Daytona 500. And, I sat there thinking I’m probably never going to get to do that race again. And, then come halfway through the year I had the opportunity in the 96 and now here I am at the Daytona 500. You never count yourself out, but I’m very thankful to Marty Gaunt and Gaunt Brothers Racing for this opportunity. Also, Toyota and everyone who has made it possible. I think we’re going to continue to surprise some people. We did it last year at the road courses and I think we can continue to do it at the race tracks.”
What are your emotions knowing you have to qualify into the Daytona 500 at the Duels?
“I’ve really been relaxed because when I look at this sort of format, I’m way more nervous going into a single lap qualifying where it’s about the speed of the car. That makes me more nervous because I can’t control anything. There’s nothing I can do. Knowing going into a race that I can make a difference, I’ve done that at superspeedways. I enjoy superspeedway racing and I’ve been successful at superspeedways. I can understand a draft pretty quickly. Now, I feel like I can make a difference and it’s on me. So, that relaxes me because it comes down to me and the decisions that I make and if I make wrong decisions then we won’t make the Daytona 500 and if I do the right things and we make the right changes on the car we can be in the Daytona 500 and that excites me. Because at the end of the day, we’re racers and the best thing we can do is race so I’d like that opportunity.”
What is your relationship like with Toyota?
“Marty Gaunt has had a great relationship with Toyota over many years being an engine builder and such. I’ve had a relationship with Toyota from my time at Red Horse Racing and KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and they’ve been great to work with. I enjoy everyone at Toyota. They’ve been big supporters and I think they see the value in supporting someone like Marty to create this Cup team and to be a part of this sport because he’s someone who has been so loyal to them that they’re returning the favor in so many ways. I’m just the lucky benefactor of all of that. I’m very honored to have this opportunity and honored to be wearing Toyota on my suit and on the race car and have that amazing Team USA scheme. I just keep saying that car is so good looking it has to be in the Daytona 500, so we’re going to go and make the Daytona 500.”
Did you ever think you’d be back trying to get in the Daytona 500?
“I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier, which is a year ago watching this race and four years had passed since I’d driven a Cup car and four years since I did my first Daytona 500. I ended up in the TV world and felt like that was something I was going to do for a little bit and then get back into the racing world and then I ended up half and half in both, but more full-time on TV. I felt like when I watched that race last year that I’ll probably never do that race again. I’ll never have another chance in Cup and then come May suddenly a call from Marty Gaunt in the 96 and there I was driving Cup cars again. I think it’s incredible how life kind of throws you for a loop sometimes and the peaks and valleys where you’re pretty much convinced the thing you’ve been working for your whole life is not going to work out and then suddenly when you’re mostly convinced you get that weird call that you’re back in the game. Pretty cool. I think being in the Great American Race, the biggest race that we have and the biggest race in America and possibly the biggest race in the world would be a culmination of full circle to say I’m still here and I’ve still got a chance at this and we’ll keep digging after it.”