Kligerman fends off Zane Smith for wild Truck Series victory at Mid-Ohio

Parker Kligerman capitalized in a three-lap shootout and fended off several fierce challenges from Zane Smith to win the inaugural O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, July 9. The 31-year-old Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut, led three times for a race-high 56 of 67 laps, including the final three, as he assumed the lead from Zane Smith at the start of a three-lap dash to the finish.

Once he assumed the lead, Kligerman managed to fend off and remain in front of Smith through the 13-turn circuit three times before etching his name as the winner of the inaugural Truck event at Mid-Ohio and return to Victory Lane in the series for the first time in four seasons.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, which was also shortened due to rain, rookie Corey Heim started on the pole position after posting a time at 69.181 mph in 117.500 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Parker Kligerman, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 68.869 mph in 118.032 seconds.

Prior to the event, names like Derek Kraus, Austin Wayne Self and Kris Wright dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made toothier respective trucks.

When the green flag waved and the race started, Heim launched his No. 51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro clear of the field entering the first turn followed by Kligerman and Carson Hocevar as the field fanned out and jostled for early positions. With the competitors navigating their way through the 13-turn circuit for the first time, Heim, who was engaged in an early battle with Kligerman for the lead, led the first lap as John Hunter Nemechek moved up to third place. Meanwhile, Hocevar and Matt DiBenedetto battled for fourth in front of Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum.

Two laps later, Kligerman, who intimidated Heim for the lead since the start, made his move in Turn 4 to assume the lead while Heim kept Kligerman within his sights.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Kligerman was leading by eight-tenths of a second over Heim followed by Nemechek, DiBenedetto and Hocevar while Tyler Ankrum, Matt Crafton, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger and Justin Marks were in the top 10. Behind, Dylan Lupton was in 11th ahead of Connor Mosack, Christian Eckes, Kaz Grala and Taylor Gray while Tanner Gray, Ben Rhodes, Stewart Friesen, Trey Burke III and rookie Jack Wood occupied the top 20. Ty Majeski was in 21st and Chandler Smith was in 23rd ahead of Hailie Deegan and Derek Kraus.

Three laps later, the first caution flew when Mason Filippi stopped on the track. During the caution period, some like Dean Thompson and Taylor Gray pitted while the rest led by Kligerman remained on the track.

When the event restarted on Lap 10, Kligerman and Heim battled for the lead as the former retained the top spot through the first two turns and entering Turns 3 and 4. Meanwhile, Nemechek retained third ahead of DiBenedetto, Ankrum, Hocevar and the field.

By Lap 15, Kligerman extended his advantage over Heim followed by Nemechek, Zane Smith and Ankrum while Enfinger, Hocevar, Justin Marks, Crafton and Christian Eckes were in the top 10. Behind, Frisen was in 11th followed by Rhodes, who was reporting engine issues to his truck. Lupton, Grala and Tanner Tray occupied the top 15 while Connor Mosack, Majeski, Chandler Smith, Deegan and Chase Purdy were in the top 20. Meanwhile, DiBenedetto, who fell off the pace on Lap 13 when the power in his No. 25 Rackley Roofing Chevrolet Silverado RST shut off before re-firing entering Turn 2, was mired back in 28th.

During the following lap, the caution returned when Trey Burke III, who earlier went off the course in Turn 2, came to a stop while trying to exit pit road. 

With a single lap remaining in the first stage, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Kligerman retained the lead ahead of Heim, who was challenged by teammate Nemechek for the runner-up spot as Zane Smith joined the battle. In the midst of the three-truck battle, Zane Smith overtook both Kyle Busch Motorsports competitors to move into the runner-up spot as the field fanned out. Despite Smith’s late charge to the front, Kligerman managed to fend off Smith to remain the leader as he went on to claim the first stage victory on Lap 20. Zane Smith settled in second followed by Nemechek, Heim and Enfinger while Eckes, Ankrum, Hocevar, Marks and Friesen were scored in the top 10.

Following a three-minute break period, where the teams were allowed to change tires, add fuel and make adjustments to their respective trucks while the field retained their sports, the second stage started under green on Lap 21. At the start, Kligerman and Zane Smith dueled for the lead from Turn 2 to Turn 4 until Kligerman managed to fend off Smith again as he remained with the lead. Behind, teammates Nemechek and Heim battled for third in front of Enfinger while Eckes made his way to sixth in front of Majeski.

Through the first 25 scheduled laps, Kligerman remained as the leader by eight-tenths of a second over Zane Smith while Nemechek, Heim and Eckes were in the top five. Friesen was in sixth while Grant Enfinger, Hocevar, Ankrum and Grala were in the top 10. A lap earlier, Rhodes made an unscheduled pit stop as his pit crew went to work on the fuel cell amid his power issues to his No. 99 Tenda Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. The situation for Rhodes went from bad to worse when he was penalized for speeding on pit road.

By Lap 30, Kligerman continued to lead by eight-tenths of a second over Zane Smith while Nemechek, Heim and Eckes remained in the top five.

Nearing the Lap 35 mark, Nemechek, who had smoke coming out of his No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, pitted before he made the turn to the garage. By then, Rhodes, who was two laps behind the leaders amid his mechanical issue, went off the course, though he continued as the race remained under green.

At the start of the final lap of the second stage, the battle for the lead between Kligerman and Zane Smith ignited as Smith, who had slowly been pressuring Kligerman for the lead, made his move for the top spot and dueled for the lead through the first two turns. When the leaders returned to the start/finish line, Smith, who managed to overtake and clear Kligerman for the lead through the Esses, claimed his seventh stage victory of the season after winning the second stage on Lap 40. Kligerman settled in second followed by Heim, Eckes and Hocevar while Enfinger, Friesen, Ankrum, Grala and Majeski. 

Following another three-minute break period for pit stops and adjustments, the final stage commenced under green with 25 laps remaining. At the start, Zane Smith received a strong start to hold the lead before Kligerman launched his challenge for the lead exiting Turn 2. Then in Turn 4, Kligerman gained a strong run as he managed to reassume the lead.

With 20 laps remaining, Kligerman was leading by three-tenths of a second over Zane Smith while Heim, Hocevar, Eckes, Enfinger, Friesen, Ankrum, Chandler Smith and Tanner Gray were in the top 10. In the midst of the on-track action, Dylan Lupton backed his No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado RST into the tire barriers in Turn 7. Two laps earlier, Justin Marks, who was running in 13th, spun by himself in Turn 10 as he dropped out of the top 20.

Two laps later, the caution returned when Marks, who darted to the left while trying to avoid Lawless Alan, lost his brakes and slid his No. 41 Worldwide Express Chevrolet Silverado RST backward into the gravel trap in Turn 4 as he pounded the tire barriers on his right side, thus ending his one-race return as a driver in the infield care center. By then, Tyler Ankrum, who was running in the top 10, dropped off the pace after sustaining damage and a right-rear tire.

Down to the final 14 laps of the event, the race restarted under green. At the start, Kligerman retained the lead in front of Zane Smith while Heim and Hoover battled for third place in front of the field. Shortly after, however, the caution returned for a multi-truck incident that started when Austin Wayne Self, who got loose while battling Chase Purdy and Colby Howard in a three-wide battle entering the first turn, spun and was hit by rookie Jack Wood’s No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado RST while Blaine Perkins and Timmy Hill sustained damage amid the carnage.

With eight laps remaining, the race restarted under green. At the start, Zane Smith overtook Kligerman to reassume the lead exiting the first turn. At the same time, Hocevar briefly took over the runner-up spot over Kligerman before he went wide entering Turn 2 and fell back to fourth. In the midst of the on-track battles, Heim moved up to second followed by Kligerman and Hocevar. When the field returned to the start/finish line, Chase Purdy spun in Turn 12 following contact with DiBenedetto, but the race proceeded under green. 

During the following lap, however, the caution flew when Heim fell off the pace due to a mechanical failure and came to a stop between Turns 6 and 7 as his hopes of winning a second Triple Truck Challenge bonus came to an end.

Down to the final three laps of the event, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Zane Smith held a brief advantage before Kligerman made his move and reassumed the top spot exiting the fourth turn while Hocevar was up in third place. Behind, Crafton and Kris Wright spun, but the race proceeded under green. As the field returned to the start/finish line, Zane Smith launched another challenge on Kligerman for the lead, but he could not execute the move as Kligerman retained the top spot in his No. 75 Food Country USA/Tide Chevrolet Silverado RST.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Kligerman received another challenge from Zane Smith’s No. 38 Boot Barn Ford F-150 entering the first turn, though Kligerman retained the lead. Through Turns 3 to 12, Kligerman managed to hold a reasonable gap between himself and Smith. Then entering Turn 13, Smith launched his final attack by bumping and trying to move Kligerman up the track. The move, however, did not execute to the end as Kligerman managed to claim the checkered flag and cap off his dominant run with a narrow victory. 

With the victory, Kligerman earned his third career win in the Camping World Truck Series and his first since winning at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2017, which also marked the final victory to date for Henderson Motorsports. He also claimed the third and final $50,000 bonus from the Triple Truck Challenge.

“[The win]’s hard to put into words,” Kligerman said on FS1. “I was really emotional on the cooldown lap because this whole team, it’s like a team of second chances. Two years ago, I thought my driving days were done. This team gave me a call, wanted to get back racing and it’s just been a steady improvement throughout. [Owners] Charlie Henderson, Don Henderson, the whole Henderson family. All the employees at Food Country USA who give us this opportunity to come out here and do this. It’s unbelievable when you put a talented group of humans together, what they can achieve. We were doing this on an absolute fraction of what the trucks are up against. And to win on Mid-Ohio road course, finally! A road course win! I started in road courses, I came in NASCAR thinking that would be all easy. It’s taken me more than a decade to get a win, but finally, we’re here…This is a small team that could, but we’re not a small team that doesn’t win. We win. ”

Zane Smith, who trailed Kligerman to the finish line by more than a tenth of a second, claimed his third runner-up result of the season while Hocevar, Friesen and Eckes finished in the top five. Chandler Smith, Kaz Grala, Derek Kraus, Colby Howard and Hailie Deegan completed the top 10 on the track.

There were five lead changes for three different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 15 laps.

Down to the final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular-season event of the 2022 season, Zane Smith leads the regular-season standings by 58 points over both John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith, 69 over Stewart Friesen and 70 over Ben Rhodes as he closes in towards the regular-season championship. 

Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith and Stewart Friesen are locked into the 2022 Truck Playoffs based on winning at least once throughout the season while Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes and Carson Hocevar have secured spots for the Playoffs based on points. Grant Enfinger remains above the top-10 cutline in ninth place by 47 points while Matt Crafton holds the 10th and final transfer spot to the Playoffs by 19 points. Derek Kraus trails the top-10 cutline by 19 points, Tyler Ankrum trails by 46, Matt DiBenedetto trails by 63, Tanner Gray trails by 72, Chase Purdy trails by 104 and Colby Howard trails by 139.

Results.

1. Parker Kligerman, 56 laps led, Stage 1 winner

2. Zane Smith, eight laps led, Stage 2 winner

3. Carson Hocevar

4. Stewart Friesen

5. Christian Eckes

6. Chandler Smith

7. Kaz Grala

8. Derek Kraus

9. Colby Howard

10. Hailie Deegan

11. Grant Enfinger

12. Ty Majeski

13. Chase Purdy

14. Austin Wayne Self

15. Taylor Gray

16. Spencer Boyd

17. Timmy Hill

18. Matt Crafton

19. Matt DiBenedetto

20. Tanner Gray

21. Tyler Ankrum

22. Stephen Mallozzi

23. Ben Rhodes, one lap down

24. Lawless Alan, one lap down

25. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident

26. Corey Heim – OUT, Transmission, three laps down

27. Dean Thompson, seven laps down

28. John Hunter Nemechek, 10 laps down

29. Jack Wood – OUT, Accident

30. Blaine Perkins – OUT, Accident

31. Justin Marks – OUT, Accident

32. Dylan Lupton – OUT, Accident

33. Kenko Miura, 25 laps down

34. Connor Mosack – OUT, Brakes

35. Trey Burke III – OUT, Rear gear

36. Mason Filippi – OUT, Engine

The 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular-season stretch is set to conclude at Pocono Raceway on July 23, where the 10-truck Playoff field will be determined. The event’s coverage is scheduled to occur at noon ET on FOX.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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