June 8, 2009
Following his sixth-place finish in Saturday's Pocono 200, Rookie of the Year Contender Parker Kligerman traveled from Long Pond, Pennsylvania, to his hometown of Westport, Conn., to attend his Senior Prom. Kligerman, a Penske Development driver for Cunningham Motorsports, has spent his senior year of high school juggling school work and fulltime ARCA RE/MAX Series competition in hopes of landing a fulltime career in motor sports.
"It's kinda a hectic schedule," said Kligerman. "I go to Staples High School. It's the public school in my hometown of West Port, Connecticut. I have a lot of support from my principal. The day that I walked into school Freshman year I said 'You know I want to be a racecar driver and I'm going to have to travel a lot.' I didn't know exactly how far I was going to go but at the time I was racing open wheel cars on the West Coast. He said as long as you keep your grades up, it's a cool endeavor, we like it. My parents said, 'well it keeps you focused so we'll support it as much as we can as long as you keep your grades up'.
"My parents, actually [were the harder sell than my principal in convincing that I should be a racecar driver]. You would think that it would have been the principal but he thought it was awesome right away."
In seven ARCA RE/MAX Series starts in 2009, Kligerman has finished outside of the top-10 on just one occasion. He earned his first Series win at Toledo Speedway on May 17.
More ARCA Newsbreakers
"It hasn't been for a lack of effort," owner Tom DeLoach said. "We had several people working on finding a sponsor for the No. 1 and Johnny Benson. I've been working on it myself. We gave it our best shot, and we tried as long as we could, but nothing materialized."
Our View: How tough is the economy when the defending champion of a major race sanction can't secure sponsorship? It is hard to visualize a scenario in which Benson would be a good value with any team that picks him up; most of the strong teams are already set.
More Camping World Truck Series Newsbreakers
Our View: This is good news for most of the "go-or-go-home" drivers. Our best guess is that Raines will be the odd man out.
LifeLock 400 roster
Now the questions will end. Tony Stewart kept getting closer and closer with six top-fives in his previous eight attempts and during that time, he's been strong enough to win on several occasions. This week, it took a combination of speed and strategy to beat Carl Edwards to the line.
Edwards had the dominant car for most of the afternoon, but he was forced to pedal the throttle and conserve fuel as well, which made for some drama late in the Pocono 500. Still, it could have been worse, because the second most dominant driver Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas in turn two and had to coast to the finish line in seventh.
The majority of the other top-10 finishers climbed that high on the back of their own pit strategy, and fantasy owners with good instincts were rewarded. Owners who did this by the numbers suffered early after one of the favorites Denny Hamlin broke a fuel pump on the opening lap. Even with his 38th-place finish Sunday, the flat track master has an average finish of 10.71 on this track.
Results with average finish
Finish Start Driver Laps Laps Led Status Avg Fin 1 1 Tony Stewart 200 39 Running 12.43 2 11 Carl Edwards 200 103 Running 12.89 3 13 David Reutimann 200 Running 26.20 4 2 Jeff Gordon 200 9 Running 10.09 5 5 Ryan Newman 200 1 Running 13.33 6 20 Marcos Ambrose 200 Running 6.00 7 3 Jimmie Johnson 200 31 Running 9.60 8 15 Juan Montoya 200 Running 24.40 9 10 Jeff Burton 200 Running 16.29 10 26 Sam Hornish Jr 200 Running 26.00 11 9 Greg Biffle 200 4 Running 17.77 12 16 Clint Bowyer 200 Running 19.57 13 22 Jamie McMurray 200 1 Running 20.69 14 21 Casey Mears 200 1 Running 20.38 15 14 Kasey Kahne 200 Running 16.45 16 8 Matt Kenseth 200 6 Running 14.26 17 32 Michael Waltrip 200 Running 21.48 18 19 Martin Truex Jr 200 Running 15.57 19 12 Mark Martin 200 1 Running 10.84 20 25 Reed Sorenson 200 Running 28.86 21 17 Brian Vickers 200 Running 15.09 22 6 Kyle Busch 200 Running 22.00 23 23 Joey Logano 200 Running 23.00 24 24 Kevin Harvick 200 Running 15.82 25 27 Elliott Sadler 200 2 Running 20.90 26 31 David Ragan 200 Running 22.80 27 18 Dale Earnhardt Jr 200 Running 16.84 28 28 Bobby Labonte 200 Running 18.00 29 33 Paul Menard 200 Running 30.00 30 30 A J Allmendinger 199 Running 25.00 31 34 Robby Gordon 199 Running 27.94 32 37 Scott Speed 199 Running 32.00 33 42 Regan Smith 198 Running 28.67 34 29 David Stremme 198 Running 27.40 35 35 John Andretti 198 Running 28.52 36 43 Dexter Bean 196 Running 36.00 37 4 Kurt Busch 182 2 Running 16.94 38 7 Denny Hamlin 178 Running 10.71 39 36 Sterling Marlin 56 Quit 17.87 40 41 Dave Blaney 37 Quit 23.53 41 39 Joe Nemechek 36 Quit 25.21 42 38 David Gilliland 34 Quit 33.00 43 40 Patrick Carpentier 32 Quit 37.50
On these tracks, the conventional wisdom says to load up on Roush-Fenway drivers and they have the numbers to back that up. During the last five years at Michigan and Auto Club combined, the three top drivers for the Cat in the Hat dominate the top five among laps spent inside the top 10, but they are not without opposition.
Jimmie Johnson has actually spent the most time among the leaders on this track type during the last five years. With 1,273 laps among the top 10 at Michigan and another 1,970 in California, he has been spent 73 percent of his time at the head of the field. Unfortunately, bad luck and misfortune has caused him to finish outside the top 15 eight times in the last 24 races on these two tracks and nearly all of those disappointments came at Michigan.
Carl Edwards has spent considerably less time in the top 10, but he's made the most of his opportunities. With 1,260 top-10 laps at Michigan and 1,725 at California, he's competed with the leaders for 69 percent of his possible laps and all but two of his 19 races in that span have ended in top-10 finishes.
Matt Kenseth has actually spent more time among the top 10 during the last five years than Edwards, but that is because he has five more races to his credit. In 24 starts on the two-mile tracks since the beginning of 2003, Kenseth has spent 67 percent of his laps battling for a top-10 finish and he's sealed the deal 83 percent of the time with 20 top-10 finishes in 24 starts.
Another Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon and another Roushketeer Greg Biffle are locked in a virtual tie for fourth and fifth on the grid. Gordon has 2,534 laps in the top 10 out of a possible 4,440 during the last five years; Biffle has 2,509, which equates to 57 percent of the time. However, Biffle may be the better value this week because his top-10 laps at Michigan (1,267) are superior to Gordon's (1,081).
Top-10 laps on two-mile tracks
|Dale Earnhardt Jr||920||538||1,458||33%|
|Martin Truex Jr||256||469||725||25%|
|A J Allmendinger||23||157||180||13%|
|Sam Hornish Jr||37||0||37||3%|