Parker Kligerman will serve as backup driver for Kurt Busch during this weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race activities, as well as next weekend’s activities leading up to the May 25 Coca-Cola 600, both at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday morning that Kligerman will fill in for Busch in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for both races.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and want to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for entrusting me with the Haas Automation Chevy,” Kligerman said in a SHR media release. “For these next two weeks, my sole focus is to help the No. 41 team compete at a high level, no matter how big or small my role might be.”
There are at least two (and possibly three) initial time conflicts that will put Kligerman in Busch’s stead at Charlotte:
* Busch will be taking part in Indianapolis 500 practice on Friday, making him unable to also take part in practice for the All-Star race.
* Indy 500 qualifying is Saturday and runs until 6 pm ET. With qualifying for the Sprint All-Star Race slated to start at 7:10 pm ET, it’s unlikely Busch will make it to CMS in time, which means Kligerman will once again get behind the wheel. Busch should, however, be able to arrive to compete in the actual All-Star race itself, which offers a $1 million prize to the winner.
* If weather forces the All-Star race to be postponed until Sunday, Kligerman would likely race for Busch, who will be taking part in Indy 500 Pole Day.
A fourth scenario is also possible:
* Busch will attempt to become the first driver to do the Indy-Charlotte “double” – racing in both the 500 and 600 on the same day, for a total of 1,100 miles – since 2004. The 500 starts at 12:15 pm ET, while the 600 starts at 6 pm ET. If the 500 is delayed by weather, or Busch is late arriving in Charlotte, Kligerman would then start in Busch’s place in the 600.
If that occurs, Kligerman would earn the resulting driver’s points, not Busch. Once he were to arrive at CMS, Busch would take over for Kligerman in a driver switch during a pit stop in the longest and most grueling race on the NASCAR schedule.
“Parker and I were teammates a few years ago when we were together at Penske (Racing) and his feedback was always really good,” Busch said in a statement. “Plus, we’re built about the same, and that’s really important as we don’t want to have to adjust seats or pedal positions inside the race car. I’m confident in Parker’s abilities and know that my Haas Automation Chevrolet is in good hands.”
Kligerman, 23, has made 10 career Sprint Cup starts, 51 Nationwide Series starts and 50 Camping World Truck Series starts in his career. The Westport, Conn., native recently lost his ride with Swan Racing in the Cup series when the organization was forced to fold due to difficulties attracting sponsorship.
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