On Track with Parker Kligerman (Part 2)

Humorous but determined, Parker Kligerman races with gusto. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Humorous but determined, Parker Kligerman races with gusto. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Undoubtedly, Parker Kligerman wears many different hats (or helmets) in NASCAR and the world of motorsports.  On one hand, Kligerman provides analysis and opinions about racing for NBC Sports.  Similarly, he competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Gaunt Brothers Racing and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Henderson Motorsports.

Recently, Kligerman shared his thoughts on his unique dual role with covering racing while partaking in it in the world of stock cars.  While the 28-year-old racer may not compete regularly, the Connecticut native gives it his all on the asphalt arena.

Humble, personable, and driven, Kligerman’s passion for racing is as authentic as can be.  He understands the appeal and nature of this sport, whether it’s on the track or on TV.

Last month, Kligerman provided his take on a plethora of topics about his year to date and his friendship with Landon Cassill.  Now, let’s get back “On Track with Parker Kligerman” as he tells us more of his thoughts with a prior thorn on his side, the most treacherous track in NASCAR, plus a question which Landon answered earlier this year!

Rob Tiongson :  Now, who would you say was the biggest pain in the rear end over the years to you that’s at least made you go, “You know what? It’s helped me step up my level of racing”?

Interestingly, Kligerman's former on-track thorn was a former teammate. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Interestingly, Kligerman’s former on-track thorn was a former teammate. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Parker Kligerman :  Ooh, biggest pain in the rear. Made me step up. You know, back… we became teammates for a little while, that was Cole Whitt. We weren’t very good friends, and then when we became teammates, we weren’t very good friends. And then when that all fell away at Swan, I kind of remember having a truce and being like, “This is ridiculous. We should just be friends.”

So, I’d say he was someone that made me up my game and definitely I would consider somewhat as more of a friend these days. But you know, I look at drivers that are kind of in similar situations as me. Whenever Ross runs in the Truck series. Matt DiBenedetto has been running in Cup last year and this year. I look at those guys as benchmarks. Corey LaJoie now in the No. 32. You want to feel like you’re achieving at a level they are, or even hopefully above sometimes, and if you’re doing that, then you know you’re on it.

Especially for a guy like myself who’s part time, who’s driving… we’re going to do 12, 13 races all year. Doing a couple Truck races. If those guys are running full time and I can be up to speed with them or ahead of them, then I feel like I’m doing my job and I’m doing it appropriately.

So, I always look at those guys as… when you’re in Cup and you’re not in the top teams, you’ve got to find… as I said before, you’ve got to find goals and you’ve got to set them. You’ve got to figure out what those are. So those are the drivers I look at to say, “Okay, I’m doing my job if I’m with them.”

Rob Tiongson :  I know you mentioned Formula One and how it’s competitive and all that. I was wondering if you watched that Netflix documentary that was on, the 10-parter. I don’t know if you finished it or not, but it was…

Parker Kligerman :  I have one more left.

Rob Tiongson :  Oh, okay. So, you’re on the Austin episode, I think.

With a NASCAR Netlfix comedy set for next year, might an on-track documentary be worthwhile? (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

With a NASCAR Netlfix comedy set for next year, might an on-track documentary be worthwhile? (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Parker Kligerman :  Yeah. I love it. It was great. I think it’s really cool. I’ve had more people that are not into racing come up and talk to me about it, which is cool. It’s always good for motorsports to have that exposure. I think we need more content like that throughout all the series. I’ve always personally, in the TV realm, pushed for stuff like that. I’ve attempted to try and make some stuff similar at times.

I think it’s a great thing. The only thing I would say that’s annoyed me, and I have so many people reach out to me about it now, is that I could tell that there was a fake commentator in there. They dubbed in a commentator when they’re racing for 10th. No one was commentating on that at the time. And I’ve watched too much Formula One to know that that wasn’t the commentator, and I know the guy’s voice who’s doing the fake commentary, and I’m like, “Oh, this is lame.”

But you know what? No one who doesn’t watch Formula One like I do would have noticed that, or also works in TV. That was part of the… I think, that I’ve noticed it. So I thought that was funny. But hey, it’s a great deal. That’s cool. I’m all for it. More kickass, in-depth stuff. Behind the scenes. We need it all. I think people would be astonished if we did something like that in the Cup series, say in the mid-pack.

I think mid-pack battles, like they pointed out, you talk about these teams that are racing to be in the top 25 in points. Teams that are fringe top 20. Teams that are fighting just to be inside the top 30. I mean, this is an incredibly intense garage/series. And I don’t know if we always get the chance to do that, and those sorts of things do.

So, they get more in-depth. They get to do it after the fact, so teams are more open about it. I think it’d be kickass to do it here in the Cup series.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. Does that mean we have to find out who the boss, like a Guenther Steiner, is in this garage area though?

Parker Kligerman :  (laughs).

Rob Tiongson :  I’m sorry!

NASCAR certainly has interesting characters. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

NASCAR certainly has interesting characters. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

Parker Kligerman :  Yeah. I mean, I think there’s those out there. Believe me, they’re here. So you’ve just got… believe me, they’re here. There’s Christian Horners as well. We have all those same characters. I actually would laugh so much when I’m watching that where you see those guys and I could in my head be like, “Oh, I know a guy exactly like that in racing.”

We have our own versions of those. And it’s funny how they’re racers… racers are racers, and it doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of the Formula One highest funded deal, billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of people watching, or here in the Cup series, racers are all the same. So they’re very much like us.

Rob Tiongson :  Certainly. Let’s do some free association, which I’m going to do tomorrow with Landon. So tell me the first thing that comes to mind with the random topics. Favorite vacation destination?

Parker Kligerman :  Saint Martin.

Rob Tiongson :  Nice. Guilty pleasure dessert?

Parker Kligerman :  Mint chip ice cream.

Rob Tiongson :  Would you ever go vegan?

Parker Kligerman :  No.

Rob Tiongson :  Who has the nicest hair in the garage area? Besides yourself.

On the contrary, perhaps Kligerman's made his case for best hair in racing. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

On the contrary, perhaps Kligerman’s made his case for best hair in racing. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Parker Kligerman :   Yeah, it used to be Landon. I don’t know who it would be now. I always liked when Stenhouse did a mullet.

Rob Tiongson :  We should definitely put a petition for that.

Parker Kligerman :  Yeah.

Rob Tiongson :  Most treacherous racetrack right now on the circuit that’s an oval or speedway?

Parker Kligerman :  Treacherous? We were standing at it in Texas. I think they’ve done a great job with the stuff. But this place, when you get out of the groove… I mean, last year, that was hairy for sure.

Rob Tiongson :  Most overrated word in racing?

Parker Kligerman :  Overrated word in racing? (laughs) Excited.

Rob Tiongson :  Excited. Does that almost get you to the point you have to do some shots for that?

Parker Kligerman :  Yeah. I think that’s definitely one of the words I hope leaves the racing vocabulary.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. And my last question for you would be, considering how long the schedule is, how do you keep it fresh so that it doesn’t feel like a job, but of course it can still be fun but intense?

All in all, PK has a positive perspective on his dual roles. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

All in all, PK has a positive perspective on his dual roles. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Parker Kligerman :  I’m unique in that I’m doing so many different things. One week, I might show up and be racing. The next week I might show up in pit reporting. I might show up and just do this after-the-race interview. So that helps keep it fresh for me.

If you’re doing 38 weeks… and that’s why I said I have a lot of respect for Landon, what he did over the last couple years. I mean, that is a hard thing. You get beat into the ground by the schedule, by the results, by things going wrong, and so that’s a really tough deal. I would say I’ve got one of the coolest situations in the sport right now, being able to do all the things I do, so that keeps it fresh for me.

Rob Tiongson :  Do you have a question for Landon? He does a monthly blog with us, so…

Parker Kligerman :  Oh. What’s my question for Landon? (laughs)

Rob Tiongson :  It can be as funny as possible.

Time will tell if Kligerman might have another question for Landon Cassill. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Time will tell if Kligerman might have another question for Landon Cassill. (Photo Credit: Chris Taylor)

Parker Kligerman :  Hold on. Ask him when Bitcoin’s coming back up. (laughs)

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Parker, Hudson Hall, and the folks at Gaunt Brothers Racing for this incredible opportunity!  Along with TPF, his on-track efforts, and his appearances on NBC Sports Network and NBC, keep up-to-date with Parker through FacebookTwitter, and his official website!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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