Parker Kligerman and the Bandit Chippers Racing had another strong showing on a road course, bringing home a sixth-place finish in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The 23-year-old driver was able to put his No. 77 Camry up front for seven laps, but got shuffled back after an untimely caution flew after he made his second of three pit stops on the day. The Connecticut native took the final restart of the race from the ninth spot, but over the final 21 laps was able to pick up two spots and ended the day with his eighth top-10 finish of 2013.
“We had a fast Bandit Chippers Toyota Camry — everyone on this Kyle Busch Motorsports team — Eric Phillips (crew chief) and this whole crew did a really good job all weekend and just real solid weekend,” said Kligerman, who has an average finish of 4.5 on the two road-course races this season. “It’s my first time here and I don’t have a ton of experience in these cars on road courses, but we’ve just proven to be really fast and right up to par with everyone here, including the Cup guys — I felt that was impressive, especially here which I consider kind of the only place they’d have an advantage since they’ve raced here a million times. I thought we had a top-five car — just the cautions didn’t play our way and track position was so important that we just couldn’t quite get to the top-five and stay there. We led some laps and overall a pretty successful day points way.”
Kligerman was eighth quickest in Friday’s lone practice session and followed that up by earning the ninth starting spot in Saturday morning’s group-qualifying session. After the green flag dropped for the race, the No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry fell back to 10th, where it would remain until the second caution of the race occurred on lap 18. The talented youngster reported that his Camry was “loose on the right-handers and tight on the left-handers.”
When pit road opened, the top nine pitted but playing the race backwards, as is common in road-course racing, Phillips elected to keep his Toyota on the track. Kligerman assumed the race lead under caution on lap 18 and led the field to the stripe when the race went back green on lap 20. The Bandit Chippers would remain out front until ordered down pit road for a regularly-scheduled stop on lap 25.
The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop and the No. 77 Toyota returned to the track scored in the 29th position. Phillips had hoped the race would remain green and Kligerman would be able to run several laps with an open track, but one lap later the No. 52 car stalled bringing out the third caution of the race.
After cars that hadn’t made their first stop came down pit road, Kligerman took the lap-29 restart from the 14th spot. By the time the fourth caution of the race slowed the field on lap 43, he had maneuvered his way up to the seventh spot. Phillips elected to keep his young driver on the track and the Bandit Chippers Camry restarted from the fourth spot when the field went back green on lap 46.
On lap 53, the Connecticut native came down pit road under green-flag conditions for his final stop of the day. With varying strategies in play, the No. 77 Camry returned to the track in the 16th spot. Three laps later the final caution of the day occurred for debris in the esses and several teams elected to come down pit road.
The Bandit Chippers Camry took the lap-61 restart from the ninth position with 20 laps remaining. With 10 laps remaining he was in the eighth spot. Kligerman remained in the eighth spot with five laps remaining, but was able to make his way around Justin Allgaier and Joey Logano in the closing laps to end the day with a sixth-place finish.
Brad Keselowski picked up his fourth win of 2013 and the 24th of his Nationwide Series career. Keselowski’s teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished 1.418 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. Brian Vickers finished third, Regan Smith fourth and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were five caution periods totaling 15 laps. Six drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead seven times. 14 drivers failed to finish the 21st event of 2013.
Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 21 of 33 races complete, 74 points behind series points leader Austin Dillon. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 entry ranks 12th in the owner’s championship standings, 168 points behind the series-leading No. 54 team.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Bandit Chippers Racing team head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield Aug. 17 for the Inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200. Live television coverage of Saturday’s 90-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.