'Big One' hits Truck Series race at Daytona
February 21, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Big crash occurs in latter half of season-opening race
RELATED: Full race results | Standings
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After a rain-delayed start and relatively calm first three-quarters of the NextEra Energy Resources 250, many of the competitors in Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener were starting to wonder when the "Big One" would occur. There was little doubt it was coming.
On Lap 74, Ross Chastain's Ford hit Parker Kligerman's Toyota entering Turn 2 of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, triggering a massive 16-truck pileup that eliminated 10 of the trucks from the race including championship favorite Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. who is already relegated to playing title catch-up.
Rookie Mason Mingus got the worst part of the deal, his No. 35 Toyota hitting the SAFER barrier nearly head-on. None of the drivers were injured although the speedway was littered with debris and car parts.
"It's especially tough, though, when your night gets cut short, but it was out of our control," Mingus said. "But we will move on to Martinsville. I can't thank the guys at Win-Tron Racing enough for the quality trucks they build. That was the hardest hit of my career."
For Kligerman, it was a continuation of the most eventful Speedweeks he's ever had.
He finished Wednesday's first Daytona 500 practice on his Toyota’s roof. Then after seemingly racing safely to a transfer spot into the 500 during Thursday's first Duel 150 qualifying race his car agonizingly lost power on the last lap. He had to wait an hour to find out that he did earn a spot in the 500 field based on owner points.
"It's been an up-and-down week for sure," said Kligerman, still surveying the damage on his BRG Motorsports Toyota after the race. "The last few weeks I don't know, I just can't seem to just hit level ground. The highs are high and the lows are low.
"But I just feel really bad for everyone on this team, it's one of those things where we had a fast truck, we had a top-five truck."
After getting caught on the inside line and enduring the kind of impatient door-banging that typically leads to something messy, Kligerman tried to make a proactive move to the top of the track. And that's when he says Chastain hit his rear bumper twice -- the second time being more than he could recover from.
"I felt like at some point, something was going to have to give and there was going to be a wreck," Kligerman said. "I told my spotters, 'I'm going up, I don’t want to wreck down here' and so we got clear. I went up. The 92 bumped me once and then we went into the corner and he just lifted my right rear tire off the ground and that was the end of it.
"I didn't blame him or anything for it earlier (in television or radio interviews), but someone told me his interview was quite derogatory. I guess he'll have to look that word up. But I'm not sure how much you can do when you're hit from behind."
"But," Kligerman added with a huge grin. "The Daytona 500 is going to be great."