[media-credit name=”Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR” align=”alignright” width=”230″][/media-credit]By taking the checkered flag and firmly planting it in the Talladega infield on Saturday afternoon, Parker Kligerman put to rest two worries he’s been carrying around for quite a while.
Kligerman won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. The last few months he’s feared that his time in NASCAR was going to be over. Thanks to conquering his second worry, winning a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race. Saturday at Talladega he was finally in the right place at the right time, earning the win as the caution fell on the final lap when a wreck broke out on the backstretch.
“It’s been a long road to get to this victory. Two different teams and a lot of adversity, but today I was put with some of the best people I’ve ever worked with and some of the best people I’ve ever raced with,” said Kligerman after the Freds 250 presented by Coca-Cola.
“It starts at the top with Tom DeLoach [team owner] and this whole Red Horse Racing team. My crew Chad Kendrick and this entire team that we assembled mid-season to go after this championship when my situation changed. From there we’ve been on fire I feel like.
“It was just a matter of time before we’d get that first win and I probably never dreamed that it would happen here just because I haven’t finished a superspeedway race without incident in about three years.”
Talladega might have been far from Kligerman’s mind but winning wasn’t. Entering Saturday he had led 153 laps on the season; he’d dominated races, won poles and consistently put himself in position for good things to happen.
Instead he’s been the bridesmaid five times – three occasions this season. So on Saturday he did it the hard way, starting ninth but fighting adversity. He wasn’t up front very much because of a slew of problems: a faulty battery, a vibration then a bad alternator.
“We were sitting back there and we had trouble all day and I said, ‘What the hell – let’s go for it.’ Jason [White] was the faster truck, pushed him up to the front and all of a sudden got that caution and were looking for five to go and thank you Timothy [Peters] and then eventually thank you to Johnny Sauter to make that possible.”
Sauter pushed Kligerman to the lead, where he led the final two laps. The victory was the first of his career, one that he’s been waiting for three years. One he thought would have come a lot sooner before things changed and he was soon in a different place. Gone from Brad Keselowski Racing and welcomed with open arms at Red Horse Racing.
Saturday was a long time coming for the driver, but for Red Horse it was their fifth win of the season in their 300th career CWTS start.
“When you get close to something so many times and don’t achieve it you can pick two paths. You can doubt yourself, you can doubt the situation you’re in,” said Kligerman about the journey. “You can doubt everything around you or you can keep yourself believing and keep your self-confidence and look at the positives of what you did to get yourself in that position each and every time and say, ‘Hey, if I can do that, it’s just a matter of time.’
“And, I feel like switching teams and all of the things that’s happened, this team gave me a ton of confidence.”
Kligerman and his Red Horse team quickly hit if off. Their first three races were three straight top four finishes. Followed by a pole the following week then another runner-up finish. Talladega was a big breakthrough.
Now the group moves towards trying to capture the championship, two of their drivers sit third – Timothy Peters – and fourth in points, Kligerman.
With four races remaining he believes he still has a shot at the championship, he’s only 34 points out of the lead. What a difference from a few months ago, when he was sitting top five in points but had yet to win a race, thought his team wasn’t on par with the competition and says his career path was going exactly as he thought it would.
Doubt starting to creep into his mind. Now Kligerman can say goodbye to that doubt, goodbye to that terrible statistic he once mentioned about finishing second. And instead, try to get used to saying hello to Victory Lane.
“I felt like my career was looking at a position where I was probably not going to be a part of NASCAR for much longer,” Kligerman revealed. “To come over here to Red Horse and have a reinvigoration of my career, I just can’t thank these guys enough and I can’t thank everyone else here enough for giving me that confidence.
“There is vindication because we won. Winning fixes everything you like to say and it’s fixing everything right here.”