Kligerman at Ease in Back-Up Role


Kligerman relishes his role as Kurt Busch's back-up while the Stewart-Haas Racing driver shuttles back and forth between Indianapolis and Charlotte. (Photo: Getty Images)


CONCORD, N.C. - Parker Kligerman said that if everything goes to plan, he only will be in Kurt Busch’s car during Friday’s practice and briefly next week to be eligible to drive for Busch in the Coca-Cola 600 if needed.

Kligerman is serving as Busch’s back-up as Busch shuttles between Indianapolis and Charlotte to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 next week.

Busch missed Friday afternoon’s practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway to be at Indianapolis with his Andretti Autosport IndyCar team.

Busch is expected back in time for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race.  Should he not be there in time, Kligerman would not be permitted to drive because the event is for drivers who have won.

Kligerman’s focus is on what he can do during practice for Busch.

"My mindset is to help this team be at the level they’re used to being at," Kligerman said Friday.  "So when Kurt shows up, he’s ready to go out there and have the easiest transition from an IndyCar to a stock car."

Needing a back-up driver, Busch asked Kligerman a couple of weeks ago if he would be interested.  Kligerman and Busch both were at Team Penske and tested together.  It was there that their friendship grew.

Serving as a sub is not new for Kligerman.  He filled in for Brad Keselowski for the Bristol Nationwide race after Keselowski was injured at Road Atlanta in 2011.  Kligerman qualified for Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 22 Cup car in 2012 at Michigan Inernational Speedway when Hornish was at Montreal for the Nationwide event there.

What’s different is that Kligerman hasn’t been in a car recently.  His last race was in the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway before losing his ride when Swan Racing reorganized.

Kligerman is still looking for a ride but says it doesn’t have to be in NASCAR.  He admits that his break has been "refreshing."

"When you’re at the back end of the Cup Series, you’re kind of fighting and you’re with one of those teams that is struggling a bit, it can wear on you," Kligerman said.  "It’s refreshing to take a step back, look at the opportunities out there and say, 'You know what, I’m not going to do that.'  I’m going to look at opportunities that, hopefully, can forward my career and put me in a better position to win races, no matter where it is, and make sure I’m always at the forefront of a series instead of trying to build a team up because, as you saw, that doesn’t work."

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