Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Talkin' Trucks with Parker Kligerman: Red Horse Racing's newest driver

Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
It's been a wild few weeks for Parker Kligerman. His Nationwide schedule with Penske Racing was reduced, then he was released from Brad Keselowski Racing and almost immediately picked up by Red Horse Racing.

"The last few months there have been a lot of changes and especially with my career and my relationship with Penske Racing, who I have been with the last four years, and where I got my start in stock car racing. Then with the announcement at BKR and moving over to Red Horse Racing, I'd say there has been a lot of change, but change isn't always a bad thing for a race car driver. I look at young drivers who are development drivers and they are in an organization for a long time, the relationship can get stale and it needs some sort of re-invigoration. I feel like right now, I am going through that process and I am excited with my opportunity at Red Horse Racing," Kligerman said.

"A lot of people think that change can be looked at negatively, but in my opinion I only look forward, so I think a lot of things can be positive for people in the end," Kligerman said, upbeat despite the tough month he has faced.

The Red Horse Racing deal came about very quickly and Kligerman says it is for the "foreseeable future." "As long as we keep and are contending for the championship, there is a reason to continue," he explained. "Obviously we are not racing for an owners point championship in the (No.) 7 the truck, so at the end of the day it is about the drivers championship. As long as we are up front and contending for this championship, the intention is to win this, and I think we can."

Kligerman is confident in his team and its potential, reflecting on their first race at Michigan. "You saw in our first race at Michigan we were one of the best trucks there. Without the fuel mileage, we probably would have won that race. That shows that right off the bat we are here to win and win this whole deal."

One difficult part of Kligerman's fast transition is learning how his new team and crew chief work and the language they use to communicate. Considering the team finished fourth at Michigan, one week after Kligerman's arrival, the transition seems to be going well.

"I guess when you go to a new team there is usually a grace period where you can say that you are trying to learn together but the funny thing was, just to show the preparation of Red Horse Racing. It was very easy to step in here and feel like I was at home. A lot of times there may even be something on the interior where your seat doesn't fit right. The only thing we had a problem with was getting the right mirror. That is such a tiny thing, getting the right mirror, it was really a testament to the integrity of Red Horse Racing. I was so excited when we got done with everything and ran so well, I feel like we can do this all year. What can we do with a couple weeks under our belt," Kligerman said with excitement in his voice. "I am excited, focusing forward and thinking that we can be there every week, it is scary for the rest of the competition!"

Racing tonight at Bristol, Kligerman says that the track is "one of the coolest places we go." He tweeted a picture of the race track saying, "There's something gladiatorial about this place." On racing at the last great colosseum, "to come out on top here can be one of the best things in the world. I hope we can accomplish that."

While making the life-changing switch to Red Horse Racing, Kligerman also had another huge milestone in his young career, he got to climb into a Sprint Cup car for the first time. (In case you missed the story: Kligerman practiced and qualified the No. 22 for Sam Hornish Jr. at Michigan so that Sam could focus on his Nationwide ride in Montreal.)

"It was probably one of the most hectic, crazy weekends of my life running with a new team and then jumping into a Cup car. For anyone that is a huge event when you jump into a Cup car. That is the top of our sport and that is where we all want to get. To go in there, you almost have a mentality that you are going to be nervous and on edge about it. That's Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and all your top stars up there, the guys you have been watching your whole life, all the sudden you are on track with them. It's funny, I was sitting there before first practice and I had never felt more at home! I had never felt more calm in a race car. It just felt right. Right off the bat we were fast and went to the top of the time sheets, right then and there I knew that weekend was going to be good," Kligerman said.

After setting up and qualifying the car, Kligerman handed the No. 22 back to Hornish for the race and proudly stood atop the spotter's stand to watch the race.

Tackling social media

Like many of today's young guns, Kligerman enjoys tweeting with his fans.

"NASCAR has been the model sport of how to use social media. It is simply our fan club, each and every athlete in the sport has their own fan club at the tip of their fingers. Not only that, NASCAR offers you the chance to be inside the garage with anyone from the drivers to the shock guy to the tire guys. Each team that is there, someone has a Twitter account. As a driver, I love it because as I said, it is my fan club. I don't need a formal fan club. I am on Twitter 24/7 at your call to answer questions and talk about my career and how things are going."

Another thing Kligerman likes about Twitter is  the driver-to-driver talk that sparks rivalries

Kligerman believes it's a great thing for the sport when Twitter followers actually attend races. So if you follow @pkligerman, let him know when you're at the track. 

On a funny note

Kligerman asked to pass on a message to Michigan winner Nelson Piquet Jr. - "You can tell Piquet he is not all he is cracked up to be," he said with a laugh and mentioned he hopes Piquet sees this.



  1. For NASCAR, it is the trucks on which I root for. Always been a supporter of team Chevy and their drivers. One of the trucks passionately known as Lizzie was once an old ute for hire that was refurbished.