Westport, CT - Here are some staggering numbers: 19 year old rookie Parker Kligerman has been a winner on tour over 40% of the time not only this season, but in his entire stock car racing career. He has never lost on a dirt track; a perfect 2 for 2. Even more impressive, Kligerman has won 77% of the road course races he has entered, and has qualified on the front row in all but 1 race in his road course racing career. This will be the second time Kligerman has been to the New Jersey Thunderbolt Raceway, and the only other track where he has made a return visit is Toledo, where he won in his second attempt.
Having experience on road courses will definitely be a plus this weekend, although Parker Kligerman it seems, does not need the experience to get the job done. The youngster from Westport Connecticut won both dirt races this season, and has taken the checkered flag at 6 race tracks that he had no previous experience. Coming to New Jersey this weekend for the South Jersey Building Trades 150, Kligerman really likes his chances. "I have really been looking forward too this race and I feel that we can really extract a large amount of points here", says Kligerman. "I believe that this is only the second track on the schedule that I have been too before, and it gives me a different amount of confidence then usual that enables me to really be able to focus on the setup of the car right from the get-go. I also feel that with all that I have been able to learn from my Crew Chief Chris Carrier and my whole team about driving stockcars that I really feel I know how too extract more from the car".
So what makes a great road course driver according to Kligerman? "In stockcars, I believe a good road racer is very efficient under the brakes and is able to really able to extract the maximum from the car through apex of each corner. Also, knowing which corners to sacrifice for more important corners is key to a better lap time".
Now, Kligerman is finally coming to a track where he has all the experience, and he is looking to make up for last seasons disappointing finish, where he ran 6th after running in the top three all day. "I was really disappointed not to win this race last year", says Kligerman. "I think we had a great shot to at least finish second, but the rain came at the wrong time for us and the right time for some other cars. I am here to win this race, but that hasnít changed at all from the beginning of the season. Our goal is to win races, and lead laps. You can't be losing points if you're winning so we just try to win each race and let the points take care of themselves. I donít expect to just go there and have my way though, there are going to be a lot of good drivers out there and its going to be just as difficult as ever."
It was at this very same track that one year ago Kligerman made his Stock car racing debut driving the #77 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge in what was at that time a single race deal. However, after qualifying on the front row and battling at the front all day, Kligerman was offered a slightly better deal, a full time ride with Cunningham Motorsports this season and a Penske Racing development contract. "I always dreamed and hoped it would end up like this but never in my wildest expectations did I think those dreams would actually come true. Thankfully they have and I feel now I am more confident then I was then and definitely focused on bringing home this championship for Cunningham Motorsports and Penske Racing".
Now, with 4 races to go and the championship battle tightening, a win on familiar ground would go a long way toward tipping the scales in Kligerman's favor. The one time road course ace turned stock car phenom will be back to the ovals before too long, but that is not a problem for Kligerman. "I feel I am just as affluent on ovals as I am on road courses now."
It seems that the numbers agree with that statement.