Parker Kligerman Pulls Off The Upset To Win Chaotic NASCAR Playoff Race At Talladegaby Hunter Thomas October 14, 2017
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Parker Kligerman captured Henderson Motorsports’ first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in NASCAR Overtime on Saturday in the Fred’s 250.
When the sixth and final caution of the afternoon came out after the field had taken the white flag, it was Kligerman leading the way in his No. 75 Food Country USA/Lopez Wealth Management Toyota. Since the white flag had already flown, Kligerman was announced the winner of the race. The small, part-time team that’s based in Virginia shocked the NASCAR world as Kligerman drove the truck to his second-career victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It’s incredible, Chris Carrier (crew chief) and everybody on this team,” Kligerman said in Victory Lane. “This has been one of the longest running teams in NASCAR and with Food Country USA. We had a special decal on here for Peggy Miller and she was a cancer survivor and created a cancer support group in Abingdon, Virginia. This one is for all of the breast cancer survivors and cancer in general. This win is awesome and that’s great.”
On the NASCAR Overtime restart, Kligerman passed Christopher Bell on the backstretch for what turned out to be the race-winning move after a push from Grant Enfinger sent him to the race lead. Once the field rounded Turns 3 and 4, the caution came out not long after the field passed the start-finish line to begin the final lap of the race. Kligerman only led three laps throughout the afternoon.
“It was just crazy and every move worked Sometimes they click and those last 10 laps, whether I went high and I separated from the pack or I tried to get the bump and the run, every move just worked. Sometimes they go your way and that was awesome.”
Bell started the race from the pole and finished second in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota Toyota. He was out in front of the field for only nine laps during the race. In the closing laps, Bell looked to be the favorite for the win, but he wasn’t able to hold off the hard charging truck of Kligerman. With the runner-up finish, he now leads Johnny Sauter by 20 points in the standings heading into the Round of 6.
“Hair-raising,” Bell said about the closing laps. “That’s really all I can say. Pretty intense there the last 10 (laps) and people started pushing and wiggling. It was very intense. Second was not where we wanted to be but the truck is in one piece. We rolled it onto pit lane here. Just proud of all of my guys and the effort they put into this. They brought a really fast Toyota Tundra. We didn’t end up in victory lane, but we’re in second and the truck’s in one piece so that’s the next best thing.”
Known for his success in Late Model Stocks, Myatt Snider survived the chaos at Talladega Superspeedway to finish third. Grant Enfinger finished fourth, and NASCAR Playoff contender, Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five.
Heading into the Fred’s 250, the championship point standings was the headliner. John Hunter Nemechek, who finished sixth on Saturday just barely made the cut after enduring a day filled with adversity. Nemechek was involved in a lap 55 crash in Turn 3, which severely damaged his No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Inc. Chevrolet. Due to the crash, Nemechek was on the outside looking in, but he avoided multiple crashes in great fashion, and he was able to claim a solid finish to transfer in the NASCAR Playoffs.
“I would’ve never thought that we would’ve finished sixth after the day that we had,” Nemechek said. “I can’t thank all of my guys enough. They never gave up, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Early in Stage 1, Chase Briscoe’s truck experienced a mechanical issue. Briscoe was one of the drivers looking to solidify his spot in the Round of 6, but after he went to the garage under green flag conditions, he never regained the positions lost. Briscoe finishes a disappointing 22nd.
Kaz Grala’s team had to change an engine prior to Saturday’s race, forcing them to start in the rear of the final Playoff race of the opening round. On lap 20, Grala’s NASCAR Playoff hopes came to an abrupt end when he was involved in a crash entering the tri-oval. Several trucks checked up in front of him, and Grala was hit from behind and sent hard into the outside wall. Grala finished 29th.
“That’s a tough one,” Grala said outside of the Infield Care Center. “I mean, my team and all of the Hendrick guys worked really hard to change that motor and get us back out there, and from what I could tell, I still felt like we were the fastest truck out there. We made a lot of good moves. We were in position to get Stage points in Stage 1, which was pretty unbelievable.
“I missed the beginning of it right there, but I’m not quite sure what happened, but everything checked up ahead of me. I slowed down. I think I was going to miss it, but the truck behind me didn’t get slowed down fast enough and turned us up into the wall and ended our day.”
The NASCAR Playoff standings are as followed: Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter (-20), Matt Crafton (-33), John Hunter Nemechek (-33), Ben Rhodes (-34) and Austin Cindric (-40).
During the Fred’s 250, there were 17 lead changes among 11 drivers. Sauter led a race high of 39 laps. There were also six cautions for 27 laps.
The third “big one” of the afternoon occurred on lap 71, when Myatt Snider made contact with Cody Coughlin on the frontstretch. Coughlin slid up the track, collecting several trucks. Contact from Chris Fontaine sent Coughlin’s truck flying through the air. A total of five drivers were involved in the fifth caution of the day. The red flag was displayed for eight minutes and 21 seconds.
The Round of 6 will get underway at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 28. The Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images