With series sponsor Nationwide Insurance using this weekend’s inaugural visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington to raise awareness and funds for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, many drivers will share the experience with “champion patients” from the pediatric hospital located in nearby Columbus, Ohio. The hood of Parker Kligerman’s No. No. 77 Bandit Chippers Camry will feature a picture of nine-year-old Payton Julian from Mansfield, Ohio, who in his own words “kicked cancer’s butt” after defeating Wilms’ Tumor, a type of kidney cancer that occurs in children, while a patient at the facility in 2008. Julian will be on hand and get to be Kligerman’s guest at the driver’s meeting, driver introductions and sit on the No. 77 team’s pit box during the 90-lap race.
Kligerman, who’s racing teeth were cut on road courses in the Skip Barber and Formula Renault Series, has turned heads in the first two road-course events this season. The Connecticut native qualified third, led four laps and finished third at Road American in Elkhart Lake Wisc. in June and last weekend qualified ninth, led seven laps and finished sixth in a field that included several Sprint Cup Series drivers at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The former road racer’s average finish of 4.5 is equal to that of Justin Allgaier and Brian Vickers and the trio rank second to Sam Hornish Jr.’s average result of 3.5.
The talented youngster feels that he could’ve improved last week’s result at “The Glen” by being more aggressive, but knew it was in his best interest to keep the team’s primary road-course chassis in one piece. Now the team can once again unload KBM-01, the first Nationwide Series chassis built at Kyle Busch Motorsports, which is the Toyota that has tackled each of the five road-course events on the schedule since the team debuted last season. The Camry has finished inside the top 10 in all five events, producing an average finish of 6.6.
With Mid-Ohio being the final road-course race of the season, Kligerman can be more aggressive this week as he seeks the first win of his Nationwide Series career. While it isn’t on the official agenda, he hopes to be celebrating with Julian in victory lane after Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200. Then, the two can say they “kicked Mid-Ohio’s butt” together.