Three years after running his last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, Parker Kligerman returns to NASCAR’s premier series at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he will drive the #96 Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing. The news was announced Thursday.
“We’re pleased to have Parker join GBR for the 600,” team owner Marty Gaunt stated in a press release. “He has experience at 1.5-mile tracks, as well as within all of NASCAR’s national touring series, which helps us grow our program. Our growth to date has been positive and consistent. Having multiple drivers pilot our car allows us the ability to evaluate our program’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Kligerman currently races part-time in the Camping World Truck Series, driving the #75 Chevrolet Silverado for Henderson Motorsports. In three races in 2018, he has a best finish of eleventh at Martinsville Speedway. In an eight-race schedule for Henderson in 2017, he scored his second career CWTS victory and the team’s first at Talladega Superspeedway. He finished fifth in Truck Series points in 2012, during which he also won at Talladega. A year later, he joined Kyle Busch Motorsports‘ Nationwide (now Xfinity Series) operation for the full 2013 season; he finished ninth in points with 13 top tens.
During 2013, he made his Cup Series debut for Swan Racing at Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished eighteenth. He started racing full-time for Swan in 2014, but financial problems resulted in the team’s shutdown after just eight races. At the time, Kligerman was thirty-eighth in the standings with a best run of twenty-ninth at the Daytona 500, a race that he did not finish due to a crash. His latest start in the Cup Series is a thirtieth-place effort at Darlington Raceway. For the 2014 Coca-Cola 600, he was tabbed as a fill-in driver for Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kurt Busch in the #41 as Busch was attempting to run both the Indianapolis 500 and the 600. Kligerman later became an analyst and pit reporter for NBC.
“I’ve known Marty a long time and have a tremendous amount of respect for his passion and professionalism,” Kligerman commented. “I want to help him take GBR to the next level. I’m appreciative of the opportunity and am thrilled someone with his stature recognized and rewarded my effort last year in Trucks.”
GBR, which began fielding a part-time Cup car at exclusively restrictor plate tracks in 2017, expanded to include non-plate courses in 2018. So far, the #96 has appeared in five races in 2018 with D.J. Kennington. At Talladega, the two-time Pinty’s Series champion scored his best career finish of twentieth. In the owner’s points, the #96 leads the eight teams that are running a limited schedule in 2018.
The 2018 Coca-Cola 600 will take place on 27 May. Whether Kligerman or the team will run the preceding Monster Energy All-Star Race and Monster Energy Open is uncertain.