KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – team release — SHR photo — Stewart-Haas Racing tabbed Parker Kligerman to serve as the backup driver for Kurt Busch in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS during the May 16-17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 22-25 Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Kligerman has made 10 Sprint Cup starts, 51 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts, 50 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and 23 ARCA Racing Series starts. The 23-year-old from Westport, Conn. earned a Camping World Truck Series victory in 2012 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and has nine ARCA wins, all of which came in 2009 when he finished second in the championship standings.
SHR, the title-winning Sprint Cup team co-owned by three-time series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world – selected Kligerman in the event that Busch, who is attempting to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, is unable to practice, qualify or potentially start his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet due to a schedule conflict or logistical issue.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and want to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for entrusting me with the Haas Automation Chevy,” said Kligerman, who has competed in eight Sprint Cup races in 2014. “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.”
On May 25, Busch will compete in the Indianapolis 500 before getting on a plane and traveling to North Carolina to compete in the Coca-Cola 600. Practice for the Indianapolis 500 began May 11 and continues through May 16, with qualifying May 17 and Pole Day May 18.
The May 16 practice at Indianapolis conflicts with practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. And Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 17 lasts until 6 p.m. ET, which makes for a short turnaround time for Busch to be back at Charlotte in time for the 7:10 p.m. qualifying session for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. on May 25, with the Coca-Cola 600 set to get underway at 6 p.m. The Indianapolis 500 should be completed at approximately 3:30 p.m., allowing Busch two-and-a-half hours to get from Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Charlotte before the green flag waves for the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule.
In the event Busch does not make it back to Charlotte on time, Kligerman will start the Coca-Cola 600. Upon Busch’s arrival, Kligerman will yield the seat of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet to Busch, whereupon Busch will finish the race.
“Parker and I were teammates a few years ago when we were together at Penske and his feedback was always really good,” Busch said. “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 racecar. I’m confident in Parker’s abilities and know that my Haas Automation Chevrolet is in good hands.”
Busch is a former Sprint Cup champion and has 25 career Sprint Cup victories, the most recent of which came March 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The victory all but assures Busch a spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.