Westport, CT - Parker Kligerman came into last weekend's ARCA Remax South Jersey Building Trades 150 just 35 points short of the championship points leader. After an epic battle with one of the greatest road racers in the world, Kligerman is now tied for the championship and has proven, yet again, that whatever the track, circumstances and competition, he can run at the front with anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Parker Kligerman came into last weekend's ARCA Remax South Jersey Building Trades 150 just 35 points short of the championship points leader. After an epic battle with one of the greatest road racers in the world, Kligerman is now tied for the championship and has proven, yet again, that whatever the track, circumstances and competition, he can run at the front with anyone, anytime, anywhere.
In qualifying, Kligerman had very strong run, and for the second year in a row he qualified on the front row, lapping just less than a tenth of a second slower than pole sitter and fellow Cunningham Motorsports team mate, Patrick Long. "We came with a bit better car than we had last year and the Cunningham Motorsports crew and my crew chief, Chris Carrier, did an excellent job setting up the car for this road course race I was really looking forward to", said Kligerman, who as many know by now is no stranger to road course racing. Kligerman won the Formula-TR Championship in 2006 with 11 wins and 3 second places out of 14 races. "We had a major vibration in qualifying that was getting worse and it was making the car very difficult to drive; otherwise, I think I could have had Pole Position. But we still managed to pick up 10 points on our points rival by qualifying second".
The Cunningham Crew went to work immediately trying to find the vibration after qualifying, and in the end changed an engine, transmission, and rear end which ultimately forced Kligerman to surrender his front row qualifying spot and now start 34th in the field.
From the start, Kligerman quickly made his way to 15th position inside of 2 laps when the caution flag came out and the #77 Cunningham Motorsports car made a pit stop, surrendering track position for a re-fuel. At the restart, Kligerman again went to work, driving his way to 4th place in the following 20 laps, and passed points leader Justin Lofton in the process. As the leaders made pit stops, Parker gained the lead for the first time on lap 28, having driven from the back of the field to this point in less than half the race distance, a near repeat of his amazing drive at Du Quoin. Following another yellow flag, Kligerman stopped for fresh tires and a full load of fuel, moving him to third place on the track. On this restart Kligerman made his move, passing the #4 car of teammate Patrick Long, and then the #09 car of another road course ace Spenser Pumpelly for the lead on lap 36. For the next 10 laps, Kligerman would lead teammate Long while also being told by his crew to stay ahead but ease up a little to save fuel. "It was tough", said Kligerman. "Pat was coming hard and I was trying to drive just fast enough to keep him behind me as long as we needed to for our strategy. I was trying to conserve fuel and at the same time force him to use his. I think I could have driven away at that point, but to do so we would have been really close on fuel. On lap 46, as our strategy was coming to us, we let the #4 and the #09 cars go and we were ready to go to the finish on the fuel load we had".
With 8 laps to go, the caution waived again and the leaders dove into pit lane to get fresh tires and a full load of fuel. Exiting pit lane on the rear of the #4 car, the stage was set for a duel between the seasoned professional road course racer and the rookie Phenom. As the green flag flew with 5 laps remaining, Kligerman and Long checked out from the field and put on an exciting race for the lead where both cars were battling tooth and nail for the victory, on and off the race track. Kligerman began putting tremendous pressure on Long as the rookie set the fastest lap of the race in the final laps. In turn 4, Long made a mistake, falling off the track in front of the #77 car and the two nearly came together in turn 5 while Long kept the throttle pinned through the dirt and slid back onto the track in front of Kligerman. "I probably could have had him there but I would have had to damage both cars to do it", said Kligerman. "I wasn't sure where he was going to land as he came back on and I have a Championship to think about; I didn't want him to get into our door as we went by."
Kligerman continued to press and got side by side with Long again going into turn 1 where the two had momentary contact and Parker was forced to back out of it as well. At the finish line, it was Long ahead by .3 seconds and Kligerman a disappointed, but hard fought second. "It got a little rough out there on the last few laps, but we are happy to come out of here tied for the points lead", said Kligerman. "Patrick is a world class road racer and to be able to run with him, and force him to make mistakes like that, really showed that we can run with anybody. I want to thank the entire Cunningham Motorsports crew and my crew chief Chris Carrior for a great race strategy."
With only 3 races to go, the championship is tied and Kligerman is once again on a roll. After his stunning second dirt track win at Du Quoin and his great battle resulting in second place at New Jersey, momentum seems to be on his side as the ARCA Remax Series heads to the half mile of Salem Speedway this Saturday Night for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic under the lights.