After Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Driver Wrecked Him, Xfinity Driver Finds Himself in “Shameful” Situation Ahead of Kansas

Published 09/08/2023, 3:32 PM EDT

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This season’s Xfinity series is going to witness its last race before the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin emerged victorious in the previous Darlington race. But a collision between two other racers grabbed all the limelight.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr‘s driver, Sam Mayer, cost several playoff points to Parker Kligerman. While the #48 driver would attempt to confirm his playoff position at the next race in Kansas, he got together with NBC analysts, Kim Coon and Steve Letarte to discuss his difficult predicament.

Parker Kligerman regrets his stage points in 2023 Xfinity Series

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Parker Kligerman’s first Xfinity Series with Big Machine Racing proved to be a fruitful enterprise for both parties. Kligerman registered six top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes. He was even awarded the pole position for the race at Dover Motor Speedway. This enterprising performance put him at a comfortable playoff lead of 20 points.

Kligerman hoped to confirm his spot through a respectable Darlington finish. Unfortunately, Dale Jr’s #1 Chevrolet driver hampered those plans. Mayer bumped into Kligerman toward the tail end of the race, resulting in a disappointing 24th-place finish for the NBC analyst and a loss of those crucial points.

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Consequently, the Kansas Lottery 300 became Kligerman’s only shot at qualifying for playoffs. Speaking with his NBC coworkers, he expressed remorse for leaving his team in a state of uncertainty. He recalled an earlier proclamation of Letarte that needing the last race to secure a playoff spot was extremely shameful for any racer.

A repentant Kligerman said, “One thing I do want to point out and I’m not just saying this coz he’s on the call with us. But, couple of years ago, with the regular season finale at Daytona, and I’ve always loved it ever since: He [Steve] said, ‘If you need this race to get in the playoffs, shame on you.’

“And if you look at our race team, and what we’ve done this year, to be honest, and being my harshest critic, you know, we haven’t been perfect. We haven’t scored enough stage points throughout this season. We’ve had things that have really set us back and put us in this position that we need this race to get in the playoffs. So shame on us!”

As he heads for Kansas, Parker Kligerman stands in 11th place in the playoff standings. #98 Ford driver Riley Herbst climbed to the 10th spot with one extra point after his 6th-place finish at Darlington. Kligerman now faces the onerous task of performing better than Herbst. He also needs to prevent drivers behind them in playoff positions from winning the race. Despite this setback, the #48 Chevrolet driver was optimistic about his chances in the upcoming race.

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Parker Kligerman hopeful for 10th playoff spot at Kansas

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Even with such a mammoth task in front of him, Kligerman maintained his calm disposition. He knew they lacked the requisite speed, but he was confident of their focus and execution. He was going to try his level best to cross the checkered flag. At the same time, he wished for the best-performing driver and team combination to attain victory.

He said, “Although it’s a very close points battle, the best way for me as a competitor to approach the weekend is to think I want to go out there and win both stages and win the race. And if I do that, then points don’t matter, right?

“If we don’t have the speed, we make those assessments as we go through whatever it is. But, have that intensity, that focus, that drive, and that mindset of having the best performance possible…And you know, may the best team and driver come out on top.”

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This weekend at Kansas would confirm whether Kligerman or Herbst qualified for the playoffs. And we never know, another racer could overtake them both with a surprise win. As Kligerman said, may the best one win.

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Written by:

Parika Singh

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Parika Singh is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. Her combined love for writing and motorsports drew her to the world of sports journalism, where she fell in love with the thrill, unpredictability, and charisma of covering racers and race tracks. She especially looks out for the #5 Chevrolet of Kyle 'Wheelman' Larson, because of whom, she holds a soft spot for the 2021 season where he emerged as champion.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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