Previous history links two drivers together
Kurt Busch will have Parker Kligerman on standby for the next two weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway as the 2004 champion of NASCAR’s top series aims to become just the fourth driver to compete in both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indianapolis 500 on the same day.
Kligerman will be Busch’s standby driver for both Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race and next week’s Coca-Cola 600, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday. Kligerman will turn his first laps in the No. 41 car on Friday, when Busch will miss All-Star Race practice because of a conflict with practice in Indianapolis.
Kligerman competed for Swan Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series until that team was broken up last month. A former teammate to Busch’s at Team Penske — Kligerman competed in a handful of NASCAR Nationwide Series events for Penske while Busch was driving Sprint Cup cars for the organization — the 23-year-old has a career-best finish of 18th at NASCAR’s top level. He also has one national series victory, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Talladega in 2012.
“Parker and I were teammates a few years ago when we were together at Penske, and his feedback was always really good,” Busch said in a statement. “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 race car. I’m confident in Parker’s abilities and know that my Haas Automation Chevrolet is in good hands.”
Busch’s attempt at the Memorial Day weekend double is the first by any driver in 10 years. In addition to the conflict Friday during All-Star Race practice, Kligerman could also be pressed into duty Saturday, when Indianapolis 500 qualifying ends only 70 minutes before All-Star qualifying is set to begin.
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. ET on May 25, with the Coca-Cola 600 set to get underway at 6 p.m. ET. The Indianapolis 500 should be completed at approximately 3:30 p.m., allowing Busch roughly two and a half hours to get from Indianapolis to Charlotte by airplane 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 car to Busch, who will finish the race.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and want to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for entrusting me with the Haas Automation Chevy,” Kligerman said in a statement. “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.”
Busch has something of a cushion thanks to his March 30 victory at Martinsville, which likely assures him a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He will become the fourth driver to attempt the double, after John Andretti, Robby Gordon, and Tony Stewart — the latter being his team co-owner, and the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles in the undertaking. Busch was second-fastest in Indy 500 practice Tuesday before the session was cut short by rain.