Roger Penske may have yet another star in the making in the person of young Parker Kligerman. While everyone focuses on the continued presence of Cup drivers in Nationwide, and other prospects like Trevor Bayne, Kligerman has been quietly racing and finishing well.
So far this season, Kligerman has only seven starts in the Nationwide Series although he has attempted ten races. He’s driven for underfunded Smith Ganassi Racing and gotten a few starts in Penske equipment masked as K-Automotive #26 Dodges. While the three early season DNQs certainly don’t look good on his resume, his last four starts (Daytona, Chicago, Bristol, Montreal) all turned into very impressive runs. After finishing 13th at both Daytona and Chicago, Kligerman has cracked the top ten in his last two races with a ninth at Bristol and an eighth at Montreal. Not bad considering he was up against Cup regulars at Bristol and a slew of road course aces at Montreal.
Kligerman signed on as a Penske development driver for the 2009 season, and then spent the rest of the year dominating the ARCA RE/MAX Series. He brought home nine wins and lost the championship battle to Justin Lofton by only five points. His very good ARCA season earned him the opportunity to run two races for Penske in the Nationwide Series towards the end of ’09, and Kligerman again didn’t disappoint. In his first ever NNS attempt, he sat on the pole, led laps, and brought his car home with a top 20 finish.
For 2010, Kligerman has been running a limited NNS schedule on very little support, but he is starting to make a very solid case for why Roger Penske & Co. should find a more permanent home for his future. The young driver from Connecticut has been overshadowed this season by his Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier, who currently sit first and fourth in the NNS championship standings, but his future appears to be no less bright.
Let’s hope a full slate of Nationwide races in a fully supported Penske car await Kligerman for 2011.