Running seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races last year, Parker Kligerman was able to score five top-10’s, including scoring Henderson Motorsports’ first career victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
Set to run about 10 events in 2018, Kligerman talked to POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts entering the year.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the year?
PARKER KLIGERMAN: Well, it goes without saying that I’m excited because of some of the things that we’ve done at Henderson Motorsports, in terms of areas that we’ve improved. We formed some new partnerships, which will get announced at the end of January. It’s cool to be a part of this team as it has grown – and obviously getting to victory lane last year. This year, I’m thinking that every race we show up to, we’ll have a shot to win, so that’s a cool place to be.
For me, not running for a championship, it’s a unique to have one focus and that is winning, and we’ll have a good shot this year.
PS: Out of the races that you’re going to run, what track are you most looking forward to?
PK: Well, first and foremost, Daytona (International Speedway), because we’ve won a superspeedway. We’ve done it once, why not do it again? But then after that, I would say Atlanta (Motor Speedway). Atlanta has been a track to me that has been really good for me in trucks. We’ve run really well there; we were super fast there in the (No.) 92 truck in 2016, and then really fast in the (No.) 75 truck and then had an issue. With the worn-out surface and knowing the years that we may have left on that surface are numbered, I would really love to win Atlanta on that worn-out surface.
Then lastly, it would be Bristol. Bristol for my team, for Charlie Henderson and Chris Carrier, it’s like the super bowl. That’s one place that I would like to have a really good run there, and we had a great run there last year. If we could improve on it a little bit, I would really love to win Bristol.
PS: What are your thoughts on how the stage racing played out last year?
PK: I think it’s been a great addition. I was skeptical as anyone when it first came out. But it wasn’t about a day or two before I started thinking about how a race is conducted, and the possibilities that stage racing brought in – strategy wise, and some of the things that it has done for the fans and TV viewers. I’m a huge fan of it. There’s a lot of racing series out there in the world overall that should be looking at this model, and saying that it was innovative. It’s something that racing hasn’t done before in really rewarding people for performance, and not just the end result.
I think it’s a really innovative way doing it, and I believe they hit it out of the park the first time, and I don’t see any reason to tweak it because at the end of the day, it’s doing exactly what we hoped. It’s rewarding people for performance over the course of a race, and not just the end result; we’re not just talking about the end result, but actually talking about other sports where they relate to performance over the entire event.
PS: What are your thoughts looking back on last year?
PK: Well, I felt like every time we showed up we were easily a top-five truck. Chris Carrier has a way of doing things in that we won’t go to the race track unless we know we’re 100% prepared. Because of that, we’re about quality over quantity. We did a set of races where we felt we could challenge up front. We have one goal which is winning races, and our performance throughout the year was top-10’s in every race that we finished, and we won a race. I felt like it was about a successful year that you could have running seven races like we ran.
I actually saw on David Smith’s motorsports analytics that we were the second highest rated driver and team behind Kyle Busch. So we had a very, very impressive year in my mind, and I’m looking forward to doing more of the same this year, and getting more victory lane checkered flags.
PS: What did it mean for you to get Henderson Motorsports their first truck win at Talladega?
PK: It was very impactful because of the family nature of our race team. For all that Charlie Henderson had put into this race team, and racing in general over the last couple decades, knowing that his daughter Debbie and son had taken the reins and tried to help build this team as well, and knowing that the whole area of the team is based in is very much behind them. Knowing that Chris Carrier and grew up with them, and worked with them back in the day.
It’s just a really cool story to kind of come in there and know they want to take the next step, want to become competitive, and want to win races- and we did that. You don’t always get that opportunity to build something, and be successful at it. I think it’s a very unique story, and something I’m proud to be a part of.
Selfishly, for myself, it was cool to back up the win I had a couple years ago and say it wasn’t a fluke and do it twice over. But now, I would really like to win at a non-restrictor plate track.
PS: Down the road, could you see yourself running the full Truck Series schedule?
PK: I think we’re a bit of ways from that right now. It would take partners, the age old requirement of money. But I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, I don’t see a reason that we can’t eventually build to that level. You can never say never, and it would take more green to do that, but right now we’re just focused as we’ve been on just doing quality races over quantity. If ever that opportunity comes along, we’ll be completely prepared to make it happen.
But I think there’s an element of fun in what we’re doing, and that’s just showing up and trying to win races and get to victory lane. As I said before, it’s very unique. So unless we’re fully prepared and in a top level situation to run for a championship, I don’t think we’re going to sacrifice a chance to win races just to be able to run all the races.
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