For someone who is as tremendous a talent as Parker Kligerman is, it has to be frustrating to not have the finishes to show for it. Going into Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500, Kligerman has an average finish of 34.6 after seven races, with a season best of 29th at Daytona. It doesn't help that he has four DNFs this season.
It's been an undoubtedly horrid season for the young Connecticut native, one that doesn't look to get brighter anytime soon.
However, dismal season or not, don't expect Kligerman to vanish from the spotlight in the near future.
Despite a dismal rookie season with an underfunded team and a slew of crumpled Toyotas, Kligerman is still acting like a kid who is happy to be a part of the big show. Instead of keeping a low profile like many of his peers, he is putting himself out there as often as possible and is getting involved in the sport in any way he can.
For one, Kligerman participated in the 2013 Toyota Dream Build contest, where he designed a Toyota Camry rally car. He is also the president and co-founder of Focus Now Solutions, a company that recently introduced a focus-enhancing beverage called Nootelligence, which, according to the website, is a healthy two-ounce shot made with nootropics, so-called "cognitive enhancers." The company graced his No. 58 Toyota Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona.
To add to that, Kligerman has become a popular contributor to Jalopnik.com, where his articles have been received with favorable reviews. In his articles, he gives an honest look into what life is like as a NASCAR driver and even recently delved into what life is like as "the guy in last place."
It's easy to understand why Kligerman has been frustrated this season. Although he went winless in his 2013 Nationwide season, he was pretty consistent, with three top-fives and 13 top-10s putting him in the ninth position in the final points. He also had a couple of seasons in the CWTS, winning at Talladega for the first time in 2012.
In addition, keep in mind that along with winning the pole at Kansas in 2009 in his Nationwide debut, Kligerman won nine times during his ARCA campaign that season and finished second in points. He knows how to wheel a stock car, and he isn't in the Sprint Cup Series for nothing.
For starters, Kligerman's Cup crew chief needs to be replaced if the team is going to achieve any sort of strong finish this season. Saturday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington will be Steve Lane's 300th start as a Cup crew chief, and in 299 starts, he has only one top-five (second at Phoenix in 2000 with Jeremy Mayfield) and six top-10s.
This is the same Steve Lane who was suspended 12 races and fined $100,000 for using nonconforming equipment and modifying valve stem hardware at Pocono in June 2010. The guy doesn't have the most sterling reputation in the garage, and if Swan Racing were to eventually replace him with someone more efficient, it would be a step in the right direction.
But aside from the obvious issue of the team being slightly underfunded (even an endorsement from rapper 50 Cent hasn't bettered the it's fortunes), there isn't really anything Kligerman can do to better his situation at the moment except hang on. Of course, he's been hanging on since his departure from Kyle Busch Motorsports last season.
However, he has been making the most of his situation all the same. Kligerman has been able to build up his stock through excellent PR considering he's at a disadvantage at Swan Racing. The blogging, the collaboration with Toyota and SEMA, the founding of his own business and his association with 50 Cent have put his name and his brand front and center for anyone who is interested. And given Kligerman's talents, it is safe to say there will always be someone interested.
Can Kligerman recover from his dismal 2014 start?
It's a bit iffy to say whether or not it will be through driving, although that is the likeliest answer. It may not be Sprint Cup but rather CWTS or Nationwide. If Kligerman's entire 2014 season can be defined by the first seven races of his season, then he shouldn't expect success in Cup any time soon.
He's energetic, intelligent and affable. He's got a hefty knowledge not only of NASCAR and varying motorsports, but of automobiles in general. NASCAR would be crazy to let someone like Kligerman fall by the wayside and collect dust when he has so much to offer the sport. He knows how to put his name out there even if the results on the track aren't helping, and if someone is great at PR like Kligerman is, then it is a good idea to keep him around.
Plus, Kligerman handles himself well on camera. He doesn't hem and haw and shuffle his words around. He has a confident persona, and that helps behind the screen. People are compelled to hear what the guy has to say.
So even if his NASCAR career doesn't reach amazing heights no matter how long it is, Kligerman is poised to do NASCAR plenty of good. He can be utilized in more ways than one, so members of the NASCAR nation should expect to see him for many years to come.