En route to taking the underdog No. 75 truck to a win at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, Parker Kligerman ruffled feathers with some aggressive pushing that left drivers complaining on the radio.
Christopher Bell, Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger were among the drivers who told their spotters to tell Kligerman to back off at various points during the race.
“Try not to let that 75 get behind me,” Rhodes said at one point.
“Get him off me, man!” Bell said late in the race. “Get him off me!”
So were all the complaints justified, or were those drivers just not used to taking a push?
“There’s some incredibly talented drivers out there, but I think we forgot how to tandem a little bit,” Kligerman said when asked. “We’re not allowed to tandem, but if you watch Joey Logano in the Xfinity car (at plate races) in the last couple years, he does that tap-tap-tap thing.”
That “tap-tap-tap thing” is a borderline bump draft, but legal because the vehicles are not locking bumpers. So as long as the bumpers aren’t together for more than a couple seconds, NASCAR is fine with that.
Kligerman decided if he could make that happen with the current rules package, “then we’ve got to do that.” And the best time to do so would be in the first two stages, when there were built-in cautions to help with experimentation.
His reaction to hearing a few drivers were upset?
“Whatever. I thought we were here to race,” he said. “… I didn’t spin anyone out, so I think it worked. We passed a lot of trucks and got ourselves to the front a couple times. And when it came down to it, all of them were doing the same thing. So I don’t see any harm or foul.”
Chris Carrier, Kligerman’s crew chief, heard the question and asked if he chimed in. His take was decidedly more blunt.
“I’ve been a crew chief for 40-some years,” he said. “The guys I see complaining are the guys who want to be Sunday drivers. They’d better grow up. If you don’t want to cut the grass, you’d better not mind getting grass in your shoes. That’s part of it, like it or not. Grow up.”