Race Weekend Central

Contact with Daniel Hemric Costs Parker Kligerman Shot at Atlanta Win

HAMPTON, Ga. – Parker Kligerman could see the checkered flag in front of him, only a few hundred feet away.

He was side drafting with fellow NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Austin Hill while approaching the race’s end, and he had enough speed that it really looked like the Connecticut native was about to score his first career Xfinity win on Saturday (March 18) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

And then he got hooked.

Daniel Hemric, who was running third, slid up the lane in what seemed to be an attempt to push the No. 48 Chevrolet. Instead, the No. 11 miscalculated and spun Kligerman into Hill.

The wreck turned Kligerman around and sent him into the infield grass. The Big Machine Racing entry spun across the line backwards, resulting in a fourth-place finish.

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Austin Hill Dominates Atlanta Xfinity Race for 3rd Win of 2023

“It was like the best scenario you could possibly be in,” Kligerman said. “I saw the [No.] 25 coming, and I knew I felt like, with my tires, if I could get to the outside then it just [would] allow me the side draft to the line and that would give us the win.

“I didn’t account for the [No.] 11 nailing us the left rear.”

“The No. 48 poked to the outside of [the No.] 21,” Hemric said when asked about the last lap. “I thought that was an opportunity to get second and we came off the line off of [turn] 4. I went to go grab ahold of his left-rear side and draft him. I think in his mind, obviously, he knows his job is to get to the [No.] 21’s right rear and we just came together at the same point.

“I hate the shot that he took.”

Yet despite being so close to that elusive first career win, Kligerman walked out of the infield care center all smiles. After all, Kligerman still ended the night with his best result of the season and his first top-five Xfinity result since 2013.

Not to mention, that No. 48 was fast. Like, really fast.

And Kligerman knew it.

“That was the first Xfinity Series superspeedway race where I felt like my natural skills and things that work in some ways were working,” Kligerman, who’d run seven Xfinity superspeedway races before Saturday, said. “And that’s what I’ve done my whole career.

“The other two I did at Talladega [Superspeedway] last year. In Daytona [this year], I just didn’t feel confident. I didn’t make the right moves. I never could get the right line.”

But he certainly made the right moves on Saturday night. At one point, Kligerman was at the tail end of the field in the final stage of the race after pitting for new tires. Normally, on the new Atlanta surface, it takes a lot of time to reach back to the front of the field after being shuffled back to the end of the two-lane freight train.

However, Kligerman kept creeping on the bottom lane when no one else would, and while the rest of the field kept to the safety of the top, Kligerman ran the bottom and picked off one car at a time.

“Honestly, I didn’t mean to go down there but they were backing it up so bad,” Kligerman said. “We had all the things in our corner, but, you know, four tires mattered and, you know, I could hold it flat out and run the bottom so well and side draft and that put us in the best position that we could. I’m surprised more people wouldn’t come with us and just get the lead.”

Eventually the field caught on, however, and in the closing laps, the No. 48 challenged the seemingly-invincible Richard Childress Racing No. 21 of Hill for the lead.

It simply just didn’t turn out the way he wanted.

At least not this time.

“I just think there’ll be so many more, and winning a stage was big,” he said. “[We] got a playoff point. I’m sure we finished in the top five somewhere. So, we’ve got a haul of points.

“That’s the first top five and we can build on this.”

With a road course race at Circuit of the Americas for the sports car veteran to race on, the momentum could not have come at a better time.

About the author

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Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loudcolumn and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.

Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT

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