Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises Is Off To The Best Start In Team Historyby Hunter Thomas February 29, 2016 0 comments
HAMPTON, Ga. – Following the Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises’ Parker Kligerman now leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship point standings.
The incredible performance marks the first time in team history that they’ve been on top of the driver standings after two races. Kligerman leads Daniel Hemric by a mere point, after crossing the finish line in the eighth position on Saturday night. However, what’s even more impressive is that the team did so not by pit strategy but by motoring past their competition and fighting their way into the top-10.
“We were just running awesome,” Kligerman said. “We didn’t see that in practice. We were decent, but we weren’t that good, but we got out there. If it’s slick like that and the tires fall off, that’s really where the driver comes out. I just took care of our tires. We were pretty loose throughout the day. I could just save the right rear and just mow them down on the long run.”
The small team based in Cerro Gordo, North Carolina entered the weekend coming off a strong third place finish during the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. That particular finish tied Clay Rogers’ efforts with the team back in 2011 while at Daytona. Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises has always been a force to reckon with on the short tracks. Even on some of the larger tracks, if the team could save their equipment and be there at the end, they’d get a solid finish, but so far this season, they’ve performed like never before.
“This year seems to be different,” Kligerman said. “Everything just seems to click, and if there’s a wreck, we avoid it, knock-on-wood, and these guys do a great job. Mike Hester, Ricky Benton, Bobby Gill is our car chief, Mike our tire guy; those are the guys in our shop. We have some guys that come out on the weekend. They all do a great job to get us here, and you know. We don’t have a lot to work with on the engineering side, but we know the basics, and when we hit it right like that, we have a great truck. That was cool to be fast. We were as fast as the leaders throughout the race.”
Kligerman ran just outside of the top-10 for most of the night, but in the closing laps, he was able to pilot his No. 92 Ford F-150 towards the front. The Caution Clock expired for the second time, bringing out the caution on lap 107. Kligerman entered the pits well inside the top-10 but found himself on the outside looking in after returning to the track. Following the restart, Kligerman avoided a few wrecks and drove his way back to the front of the pack.
The field took the green flag for the final time with just two laps to go. John Wes Townely, who started on the outside of the front row spun his tires and backed up the high line. Kligerman started on the outside and was forced into a bad spot on the restart. He could never make any ground and had to settle for a very strong eighth, but the team felt that they had a truck to at the very least, finish inside the top-five.
“One the last run, we bumped up the tire pressures and flew, and I thought we had a shot at the win because we were so good on the restarts, but the 05 (John Wes Townley) spun his tires there and back up our whole line, so we got screwed,” Kligerman said.
With a month to prepare for the third race of the season, Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises couldn’t ask for a better track to visit next, than Martinsville Speedway. Unlike the mile-and-a-half tracks, where motor means a lot, the “paperclip” in Virginia is absolutely perfect for the small team that relies on talent and hard work. The only downside is that the team doesn’t have the resources that some of the bigger teams do, so they’ll need to keep their nose fairly clean and bring the truck home in one piece.
“This is the best start, and we’ve got the best group that we’ve ever had, and we’ve got a heck of a driver and glad to have Mike, Bobby Gill and Valvoline,” said team owner, Ricky Benton. “We’ve actually got a little bit of marketing help and pretty good hot rods.”
The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 will be held at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, April 2. Coverage for the event will be broadcasted on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:30 p.m. ET
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas