Parker Kligerman, in his first ride in the Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) Enterprises Valvoline/Advance Auto Parts/BTS Tire and Wheel Distributors/Goodyear Commercial Tire Network Ford F-150, survived a wild finish to bring home a third-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
The finish matches the team's best ever finish in more than six years of NCWTS competition. Clay Rogers finished third in the 2011 running of this race.
The result wasn't without some hard driving and evasive maneuvers from Kligerman. He barely missed being collected by "the big one" on lap 93.
"Everyone was trying to make the outside line work...and it just wouldn't," Kligerman said. "There eventually comes a point where you could see the race kind of take a character...it takes a shift and suddenly (everyone) is hitting each other as hard as they can. I could just see it happening, so I sort of backed off and the 88 got turned sideways and that big wreck happened.
"But after the wreck cleared so many of the trucks I was focused on, I was thinking, you're gonna get the third."
Even after the white flag flew, that finish was not assured. Another large wreck, that saw Christopher Bell's Toyota tumble down the front stretch, was caused by contact that occurred directly in front of Kligerman's No. 92 Ford. Kligerman was able to skate through the carnage. The green flag never came out and when the final order was sorted out, Kligerman and the RBR team were scored third behind race winner Johnny Sauter and second-place finisher Ryan Truex.
"I can't say enough about this team's efforts," said team owner Ricky Benton. "We had a few mistakes on pit road that cost us track position, but they kept working hard and at then end, we were in position to win. (Crew chief) Mike (Hester) called a great race and Parker drove a smart race.
"I'm glad we were able to get a good finish for Valvoline, Advance Auto Parts and Goodyear. We really appreciate their support for this race and this finish gives us a great start to 2016."
"...for this team, there's three guys that work full‑time in the shop: Hester, (car chief) Bobby Gill and Mikey Hammond, our tire guy," Kligerman said. "They're in the shop and they work very hard, very methodically to put great equipment on the track, and you see it today and I think you saw it last year too.
"To give this team that kind of momentum to give them the opportunity to be up front, it's great."
Kligerman and the RBR team plan to return to NCWTS action next Saturday for the Georgia 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.