Is there any bad blood between Parker Kligerman, Brad Keselowski in wake of their Truck Series parting?
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- There is an interesting dynamic this weekend between Brad Keselowski and Parker Kligerman.
To catch everyone up, until about a week ago, Kligerman drove a truck for Brad Keselowski Racing, but they parted ways and now Kligerman is driving for Red Horse Racing and Brad will drive his own Truck in the race … so the two will battle each other in trucks on Saturday.
But that’s not all. Kligerman remains a development driver for Penske Racing, which is the team Brad drives for in Cup. Brad’s Cup teammate Sam Hornish Jr. is focusing on his Nationwide run in Montreal through Saturday, so guess who’s practicing and qualifying the #22 car on Friday. That’s right, Parker Kligerman. This puts them in a situation where the two former comrades at BKR possibly would have the need to discuss how the cars are performing.
So to sum it up, while their relationship at BKR has ended, Brad and Parker are still working together to some extent at Penske Racing, at least until the end of the year.
Some would equate it to breaking up with your girlfriend, then having to see her every day after that breakup.
Brad and Parker are professionals of course, and will do their jobs as well as they always do. But it’s kind of a unique situation.
Kligerman talked about the split with BKR Friday morning at Michigan International Speedway.
"Brad (Keselowski) and Penske Racing gave me a great opportunity for the last year and a half, but we just weren't accomplishing what we'd hoped to and at the end of the day -- that's winning. We just weren't doing that. In this championship battle, we had put ourselves in good position, but we weren't quite having the potential to go out and win this championship. Obviously, made a change and was lucky enough to end up over here with Tom DeLoach and Red Horse Racing and just really grateful for the opportunity. Going out there today in first practice and feeling how professional an organization this is and how great the equipment is -- Joe Gibbs Racing motors are just a huge step above. I'm just really glad to be here."
He went on to clarify his relationship with Penske Racing.
"First off, I'm still a development driver with Penske Racing -- been with them since '08. I have a contract with them until the end of the year and obviously there have been a lot of changes and a lot of things have happened on the Nationwide side and have kind of preceded the Truck side. Definitely, still on call with them. I'm actually doing the practice and qualifying
for the 22 Cup car today and also practicing tomorrow. Then will also be doing some testing for them later in the year. Definitely still have the relationship with them -- I'm very thankful for that. Roger (Penske) helped me get my start in stock car racing and I can't be more thankful for what he's given me.
He said there wasn’t just one specific reason his relationship with BKR ended, just an overall inability to contend for the title as well as he would have liked.
“As for Brad Keselowski Racing -- I don't want to say there was one pinpointed thing. At the end of the day, these teams, the way we get better is we have resources to get better -- whether it's wind tunnel time, manufacturer support -- you name it. We were just falling behind in those areas and for Brad's long term future of that race team he needs to find a way to get that and with me in the truck it just wasn't possible. No hard feelings there -- not going to put them down. I was really grateful for the year and a half there and we came very close to winning races, we just couldn't quite get over the hump. Thankfully, over here at Red Horse Racing we do have the support of Toyota, which is really larger. It's a big thing to have that manufacturer support that they have and they work so closely with the manufacturer, so I'm excited about that."
Red Horse Racing owner Tom Deloach said the addition of Kligerman was a surprise, but a good one.
“I get this call from Parker(Kligerman) and he says, 'Hey, I need to talk to you about something. Brad (Keselowski) and I have decided to go our separate ways. You got a ride? Could I get in that Red Horse truck?' It's been a rather exciting week and a half to get to this point. Parker dropped right in and it's almost like he's been here all year long.”
Deloach also said that “Dodge did not have that strong of a program” in Trucks. … All I can say to that is OUCH! It’s rare to hear that kind of bashing of a car make in this sport, though I guess since Dodge is pulling out of the sport it’s not such a big burn.
Kligerman said he’s very serious about battling for the title in his new ride at Red Horse Racing.
How many races do you plan to run for Red Horse Racing this season?
"First off, I'm here to win a championship for Red Horse Racing and Tom DeLoach, so hopefully we'll be able to go for the rest of the season as long as we can stay in this championship fight.”
Parker did say he’s not going to bash, but if you read between the lines of the comments he and his team owner made, there is definitely a little smack being thrown Brad’s way.
Does this kind of talk from Parker and his new team bother Brad Keselowski, or was the parting mutual? That’s the question in my head, and only they know the answer.
I can tell you this: If I was Brad, I’d be a little annoyed, even if the parting was initially mutual. I bet a win in his Dodge Saturday at MIS would be especially satisfying in the wake of these comments.