The next race for NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series will take place on April 2 at Martinsville, Virginia with driver Parker Kligerman and the Ricky Benton Racing team have bragging rights as the No. 1 team on the circuit.
Kligerman backed up a third-place finish at Daytona with an eighth-place run at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. That leaves him and the Cerro Gordo-based team atop the driver and owner standings, with Kligerman one point ahead of Brad Keselowski Racing’s Daniel Hemric.
“It feels great,” Benton said Tuesday. “Parker’s done a heckuva job, and the team has. They’ve been focused and looking up, and we’ve had some pretty good hot rods.”
“We’ve been kind of weak on the pit crew or we’d have had some chances to win, but we’re working on that,” he added.
Kligerman’s Daytona finish matched the team’s best in its six years of part-time competition. He’s going to be behind the wheel as the team tackles the next four races — Martinsville, Kansas City, Dover and Charlotte — that will carry it through the end of May. Whether the team will tackle all or part of the 17 events that remain after Charlotte is contingent on sponsorship.
“Hopefully, Valvoline and Advance [Auto Parts] will look at doing some more” in the way of sponsorship, Benton said. “We can be on the top for the next four weeks, so that’s a very good thing.”
There’s also a trump card for the team in terms of exposure. A native of Connecticut, Kligerman’s apartment in Stamford gives him a view of the NBCSN studios where he’s a regular analyst on “NASCAR America,” a TV show that airs weekdays at 5 pm. Kligerman’s been a part of the broadcast team since August 2014.
“We keep focusing on things week to week and put our best effort forward every time we show up,” Kligerman said. “
He said he’s had chances to win both races this season.
“Daytona, maybe I could’ve made a move there at the end to win, but I thought discretion was the better part of valor for our team,” he said. “Atlanta, I was excited to go there with the way to tires wear and such that played to my strengths as a driver.”
Though he’ll be out of the seat of the No. 92 entry for a month, Kligerman’s optimistic about his chances at Martinsville, a paper clip-shaped track that’s only 0.526 mile (0.8416 kilometer) in length. Scott Riggs drove Benton’s truck to a fifth-place there in 2012.
“I like it a lot. It’s a place I’ve had a lot of speed before,” Kligerman said. “And with their record there, I’m going to lean on them. A solid top 10 would be an excellent result for us, and I think we can be contenders to win at Dover, Kansas and Charlotte.”