Bandit Clippers racing team grinds out an eighth-place finish

Parker Kligerman was running sixth near the halfway mark of the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. as the team prepared for its second pit stop of the day under green-flag conditions. Two laps before he was scheduled to make his stop, Kligerman alerted his crew that the Bandit Chippers Camry had ran out of gas and was forced to coast down pit road. After an extended stay in his stall as the over-the-wall crew worked to get his Toyota re-fired, he returned to the track one lap down in the 24thspot.


After fighting hard for and successfully securing the Lucky Dog when the third caution of the race occurred on lap 159, Kligerman returned to the lead lap. After taking the lap-163 restart from the 13th position, the Connecticut native slowly but surely maneuvered his way back inside the top 10 and was able to grind out an eighth-place finish.


“We had a really good Bandit Chippers Camry,” said Kligerman, who posted his third top-10 finish in four Nationwide Series starts at Chicagoland. “We made the right adjustments and we were keeping up with the track, but we had that one run where we ran out of fuel and ended up a lap down — almost two laps down.  But thankfully we were able to fight Kyle (Busch) off to hold onto the lead lap.  We got all the way back on the lead lap and started to fight back and had two bad restarts where it wasn’t even any fault of our own, just a car in front of us would wreck or a car in front of us would miss a gear and people would go around me.  So, I had to fight all the way back through and on that last restart finally got a bunch of them and ended up eighth.  I passed (Kevin) Harvick there coming to the checkers and thought I could get (Matt) Kenseth, but just ran out of time.  I’m proud of everyone on this No. 77 team for fighting back after a bad few weeks to get our Toyota Camry up here in the top 10 again and showing top-five speed – was a good day.” 


In Saturday morning’s qualifying session, Kligerman toured the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval in 30.463 seconds at 177.264 mph. The lap earned the No. 77 team the fifth starting spot, the team’s fifth top-five start of the season.


The Bandit Chippers Camry was scored in the sixth position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 24. Kligerman followed the top-five cars down pit road, where the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop that included wedge adjustment. With teams on varying strategies, the No. 77 Toyota returned to the track scored in the 10th position.


The field went back to green-flag conditions on lap 28 and the talented youngster began to make his way back towards the front. On lap 31 he had maneuvered up to the eighth spot and by lap 50 he had advanced into sixth. As the run continued, he communicated to Philips that his Toyota was “tight center to exit.” The No. 77 machine remained in the sixth position when Kligerman was told to start eyeing his pit road entry they would be pitting shortly.


The team targeted lap 84 for their green-flag stop, by on lap 82 Kligerman alerted them that his Camry was out of fuel and coasted around the track and into this pit stall. The crew went to work on a four-tire and fuel stop and worked to get the Bandit Chippers Toyota re-fired. It took longer than expected to get the engine running and when their young driver returned to the track, he was scored one lap down in the 24th spot.


The good news was that as the race continued, Kligerman was posting lap times as fast at the top-three cars. He was scored in the 22nd spot when the field was slowed for the second time on lap 107. Projecting that the race would see a few more cautions and the team would be able to compete for the “Lucky Dog”, Phillips elected to bring his driver down pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop, while many other cars one lap down took the wave around.


The Bandit Chippers Camry took the lap-112 restart from the 21st position and continued to post impressive lap times. By lap 130, the talented youngster had advanced into the 14th spot and was in position for the “Lucky Dog.” As another long green-flag period continued, the cars that took the wave around had to visit pit road, many going back a lap down, and Kligerman began picking up several spots. On lap 145 he was scored in the 14th spot, where he remained until a two-car accident on lap 159. The No. 77 team remained in the “Lucky Dog” spot and returned to the lead lap.



After pitting for four tires with an air pressure adjustment and a full tank of fuel, the No. 77 took the ensuing restart from the 13th position. Kligerman had gained one position when the field was slowed for the fifth time for debris on lap 175. He remained in the 12 th spot when the sixth and final caution occurred for a one-car accident on lap 175. The Connecticut native reported that his Toyota was “loose on the initial restart, but then it comes to me.”


When the field went back green for the final time on lap186, the Bandit Chippers Camry was scored 11th.  Kligerman had a strong restart and had picked up two spots by the time the field crossed the stripe one lap later. On lap 194, the talented youngster worked his way around the outside of Sprint Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick for the eighth position, where he would remain for the remainder of the race.


KBM owner Kyle Busch picked up his 10th Nationwide Series victory in 2013 and the series leading of his career. Joey Logano finished 1.615 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot. Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, Austin Dillon fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.


There were six caution periods totaling 27 laps. Four drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead four times. Eleven drivers failed to finish the 150-lap event.


Kligerman remains 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 27 of 33 races complete, 153 points behind series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 moved into a tie with the No. 33 team for 13th in the owner’s championship standings, 269 points behind the series-leading No. 22 team.


The No. 77 Toyota Racing team heads to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta Sept. 21 for the Kentucky 300. Live television coverage of Saturday’s 200-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS.