TOLEDO, Ohio – official series release by Don Radebaugh — Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
When teenager Parker Kligerman showed up on the entry list for the first time in 2008, few people in the ARCA community knew who he was.
A year later, Kligerman had the attention of the entire racing world after the Westport, Connecticut rookie won nine of 21 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races over one of the most memorable championship battles in series history, coming up just five points shy of the series crown.
Now, seven years removed from that stunning run, Kligerman will be returning to the scene where it all started — entering the upcoming ARCA 150 presented by Unique Pretzels at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on May 28 in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, the same team that introduced him at the same track in 2008.
“This is definitely a homecoming for me,” Kligerman said. “Just coming back with Cunningham Motorsports is huge. New Jersey was the first place I ever drove a stock car. It’s been a long path since then, but I’m just grateful for this opportunity with Cunningham again … with Kerry Scherer and Briggs Cunningham having the faith in me to bring me back. I can’t wait.”
Kligerman got everyone’s attention right off the bat in his maiden voyage at NJMP in 2008, qualifying second. After making a pit stop in the back half of the race, Kligerman was noticeably charging to the front when rain halted the race for good 19 laps shy of the finish. Kligerman was credited with the sixth finishing position.
Kligerman returned full-time with Cunningham Motorsports in 2009 in the No. 77 Dodge. With four consecutive top-10s to start the year at Daytona, Salem, Rockingham and Talladega, Kligerman slipped at Kentucky, spun and went two laps down, ultimately finishing 17th. It was the last time Kligerman bobbled, answering with his career-first ARCA win in the Menards 200 at Toledo the very next week.
Kligerman’s Toledo victory set the stage for one of the tour’s most remarkable rookie runs in history when the newcomer set sail with wins at Michigan, Mansfield, Iowa and Kentucky consecutively. Lofton answered Kligerman with back-to-back wins at Berlin and Pocono before Kligerman got back on the victory track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt miles.
The tour went from DuQuoin to New Jersey in September of 2009, where Kligerman found himself dueling eventual winner Patrick Long on the final circuit. It was a thrilling last lap charge from Kligerman — during which he and Long bounced off each other, sending Kligerman dirt-tracking off course. Kligerman steered his car right back on course without missing a beat, settling for the second finishing position at the final stripe.
After New Jersey, Kligerman finished second at Salem and wrapped up the season with back-to-back wins at Kansas and Rockingham, ending one of the most successful rookie seasons ever.
Overall, Kligerman has raced in just 23 ARCA races, earning 14 top-five finishes, 20 top-10s and winning a tick shy of 40 percent of the races he has entered. If qualifying wasn’t his forte, leading races most certainly was, as he led 725 laps in 15 races.
Since his ARCA days, Kligerman has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series and has become a TV celebrity, currently serving as a guest analyst on NBC’s NASCAR America, airing Monday through Thursday at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Kligerman is currently racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the No. 92 Ford for Ricky Benton Racing, but is primed and ready for his long-time-coming ARCA return.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all you guys at New Jersey. We’ve got some unfinished business there.”
Reigning SCOTT Rookie of the Year Kyle Weatherman is the defending winner of the ARCA 150 presented by Unique Pretzels at NJMP, ironically enough in the No. 22 entry for Cunningham Motorsports that Kligerman will be piloting in this year’s edition of the event.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series