After recording his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) top-five finish last week in the season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Parker Kligerman heads west with confidence on his side and his manufacturer adorning his KBM entry. Kligerman will carry the Toyota "Let's Go Places" paint scheme on his No. 77 Camry in Saturday's Dollar General 200 fueled by Amerigas at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR), in the first of three March races on the west coast.
With a strong run at Daytona last week, Kligerman and his crew picked up right where KBM's Nationwide Series team left off at the end of 2012. KBM's NNS entry has posted top-five finishes in five of the last six races and qualified in the top five in four straight. Not only is the team surging, but its young driver's comfort level behind the wheel of a Nationwide Series is increasing each time he hits the track. The 22-year-old driver has finished 12th or better in each of his last five NNS events, spread across the last three seasons.
Kligerman is hoping that his third career start at PIR in one of NASCAR's top three divisions will be the charm. The Connecticut native, who is making his first NNS start at the 1-mile tri-oval, has found misfortune in both of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and failed to finish both events.
While the driver may not have left the Arizona track with desirable finishes, crew chief Eric Phillips has taking a liking to the unique layout at PIR. Phillips' drivers have visited victory lane in the last two Truck Series races in "The Valley of the Sun." Last year, Phillips guided Brian Scott to his second career Truck Series victory and in 2011 the Illinois native called the shots when Kyle Busch led the final 107 laps en route to the win.
As the Nationwide Series travels to places west, Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing crew are hoping to continue their hot start. While they know that they are bound to experience some bumps along their 33-race journey, the young driver and his crew know that it is eminent not to dig themselves in a hole early this season if they hope to be championship contenders come November.