When you ask most NASCAR drivers their feelings about Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, you'll always get something similar to, "It's an exciting place with great fans and great atmosphere." For most drivers, the week before heading to Bristol for the night race they are on a euphoric cloud nine. For Parker Kligerman, not only is he on cloud nine ready to experience the excitement of Friday night's Food City 250, he is stuck on a different version of Bristol's cloud nine - he's finished in ninth place in all three of his Nationwide Series starts at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile."
Despite starting 43rd and driving for an underfunded team in his first Bristol Nationwide Series start in August of 2010, the then 20-year old maneuvered his way through the field to bring home a ninth-place result and earn his first career top-10 finish. A year later driving for Penske Racing he improved his starting position to 12th, but once again ended the race ninth. Earlier this season in his first Bristol start for Kyle Busch Motorsports, he qualified 16th and at the end of 300 laps crossed the stripe in the ninth spot.
In addition to his three ninth-place finishes in the Nationwide Series, the Connecticut native has posted top-10 finishes in both of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. He came home 10th in his first-ever start at the high-banked track in 2010 and last year in his first Bristol race as a Toyota driver scored a runner-up finish. In last year's event he showed he has what it takes to have a strong run at the challenging track, scoring the second highest Driver Rating (108.7) and registering the third highest Average Green Flag Speed (115.997) in the race.
Kligerman has shown veteran poise this year, taking care of his equipment and putting himself in a position for strong finishes at the end of races. The No. 77 Camry leads the Nationwide Series with 3,700 laps completed out of a total of 3,717 possible laps and has been running at the finish of every event. In four of the last five races, the talented youngster has been scored in the top 10 when the final caution of the race occurred, but has been knocked around in the closing laps and only ended two of those races with top-10 finishes.
If he hopes to move off of cloud nine on Friday night, Kligerman will have to show a combination of patience and speed in an effort to improve upon his ninth-place finishes. He'll have to keep the No. 77 Toyota in one piece until the end of the race, then battle toe-to-toe with the likes of Sprint Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski in an effort to score his first career top-five finish at the rugged half-mile in the Nationwide Series.