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ARCA series opens speedway season

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By The Staff

SPARTA, Ky. – ARCA RE/MAX Series championship leader Parker Kligerman and nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel were among 26 competitors preparing for  Kentucky Speedway’s May 9 “Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150” during an open test at the facility last week.

Kligerman, 18, of Westport, Conn., is a former Formula TR and USAC Midget Series competitor who converted to stock car racing with Cunningham Motorsports, a long-running ARCA RE/MAX Series team which produced a fourth-place Kentucky Speedway finish in 2007.

The high school senior had originally eyed a future in Formula One competition, but placed those plans on hold to pursue his current stock venture with a development contract from Penske Racing.

“It takes a lot of money to get overseas. With the growing number of opportunities in NASCAR and the chance to race with support from Penske, this made a lot of sense. It’s been great to race in this series with veterans like Frank (Kimmel) because I’ve been able to learn so much,” Kligerman said.

The driver signed for eight races to be spread throughout the 22-race ARCA RE/MAX Series campaign saw his early-season run extended after he scored two top-five and four top-10 finishes in his first four career series starts. He snared his season-best third place finish at Salem, Ind., April 5 and took sole possession of the top spot in the championship standings with a seventh-place performance at Talladega Superspeedway April 24.

The rookie turned his strongest test lap at 171.238-mph. While the effort ranked eighth on the speed chart, he felt he had ample room for improvement.

“We’re really tight and can’t figure out why. We’re struggling big time off the corner and giving away too much speed. We have a lot to work on,” Kligerman said.

Kimmel, a nine-time series champion, will make his eighth attempt at claiming his fifth all-time Kentucky Speedway ARCA RE/MAX Series win in the “Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150.”  He will enter his 18th series start in the Bluegrass State third in the series standings and 65 points off the championship lead.

The veteran nailed down his season-best fifth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway and will ride a strong wave of momentum to a track where he’s scored a total of 10 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.

The Clarksville, Ind., driver is in the second year of owning the team for which he competes and is racing with the benefit of new sponsorship that helped him build a strong fleet of Ford Fusions alongside his crew chief and brother, Bill.  

“We might be bringing the fastest car we we’ve ever had here to next Saturday’s race. The problem is we’ll be racing the fastest cars the ARCA RE/MAX Series has ever had here,” Kimmel said.   

Speedway gates will open at 3 p.m., country music artist Chuck Wicks will be in concert at 6 p.m. and the green flag will fall for the “Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150” at 8 p.m.