Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Parker Kligerman goes from upside down to in the Daytona 500

“I’ve always had a saying in life:  It will all work out, always has, always will.  That’s what helps me sleep through all the times.” – Kligerman

After riding a roller coaster of emotions over the course of the past 48 hours, Parker Kligerman can let out a sigh of relief as he is qualified for the Daytona 500.

It all started on Wednesday during practice when Kligerman found himself on his roof with a wrecked racecar.

“Obviously that was a letdown yesterday, as I said to a lot of people here.  One of the most interesting moments of my life, sliding on your roof,” he commented. “But my guys worked incredibly hard.  I know you hear that a lot, pretty cliché.”

The Wednesday practice would hurt both Kligerman and his Swan Racing teammate Cole Whitt as Whitt got into the wall. With only one back-up car to split and Whitt’s car only having right side damage. The team made the decision to fix Whitt’s car while Kligerman got the back-up.

On Thursday after completing the first Budweiser Duel, Kligerman was nervous and worried. He hadn’t finished well nor did he have a quick time that would lock him into the field. With his Swan Racing team being low in Owner’s Points, the rookie was nervous about his chances of being in the Great American Race.

“We get in the Duel, in the last lap running ninth with Lending Tree on-board, who just came on-board the morning before, suddenly start to have the fuel issue we had and see the grasp that we had on both cars making the 500 slip away from us,” Kligerman recalled. “It was one of the worst feelings of my life.”

Though when it was all said and done with the completion of the second Budweiser Duel, Kligerman felt relief as he made it in to the Daytona 500 – set to start 41st in the 43 car field. Till Kligerman got word that he had made the show, though, he said that it was real nerve-whacking not having any clear answers.

“The only way I could compare it is I’m pretty into politics, is like running for the presidential election.  No one has the right info, everybody is saying the info they think they have, but you don’t know.  It was like that for an hour,” Kligerman commented. “We were constantly doing the math, screaming and yelling and looking around.  I think I was more animated than I normally am, I know that says a lot.”

Kligerman says with having both cars in the Daytona 500, he feels that he and Whitt have had a lot of weight lifted off their shoulders.

“It’s a growing organization, an organization that wants to be around for a long time to come, that wants to be a Chase contender in years to come,” Kligerman added. “We’ve done a lot of work in the off-season, had a lot of success as you see with Speed Stick on Cole’s car, Lending Tree on my car.  I think we’ve had a lot of success.  Then not to nail the competitive part like we were last year, would be a huge letdown, and thankfully we didn’t.”

Kligerman says that the weekend reminds him a lot of his career to date as he has had to fight to get to where he is.

“I’ve had a lot of times in my career where someone walked up to me before I got in the car and said, This is your only shot, make it count,” Kligerman added.

Though entering his first season of Sprint Cup competition, Kligerman says things seem easier as he has a lot of confidence coming off of success last season in the Nationwide Series, and his team is confident in him. He added that he knew that his team would give him a good car to run the race with as well.

“I knew they wouldn’t put a car under me that wouldn’t get it done,” he commented. “Thankfully they did.  We had a little miss-up there.  Falling back in the points, I knew that gave me some breathing room.  You weren’t sure.  I don’t know how to describe it in words other than to say I was cautiously calm, cautiously optimistic would be the way to put it, but definitely not confident as much as cautiously optimistic.”

Now heading into his first Daytona 500, Kligerman feels to grateful and astonished to be in the show.

“It’s the Daytona 500, the biggest race possibly in the world in a lot of ways when you look at the viewership, the money behind it, the attendance,” he said. “It’s an honor to be part of it for the first time, it’s an honor to have a chance at it, then to be in a position where people cared or not whether I was in it.”

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