|Date: 7/29/2009 2:21:23 PM|
Parker Kligerman Leads ARCA Brigade into Pocono
By DINO OBERTO …… “Keeping Track”
Unlike seasons past when a select few Cup drivers, mostly rookies, would join the ARCA field for the sole purpose of needed track time, this weekend’s race will instead be comprised of all Series regulars.
Without question one of the odds on favorites will be point leader Parker Kligerman, an 18-year old Penske Development driver who, since his last visit to Pocono, has been on a hot streak, winning the next four events.
Kligerman was sixth last Saturday night at Berlin Raceway. That was his lowest finish since June when the tour was at Pocono. At Berlin he was sick with the flu and when he climbed from his car said,
"That's what championship seasons are made of. They are made of making the best out of your bad days and that's what we had, a bad day. I was feeling sicker and sicker as the adrenaline wore off. It was a rough day out there. We'll go to Pocono and make up for it, hopefully with a win.
"I know I'll be feeling better by the time I get there," continued Kligerman. "And I'm going to be better in the race now that we know the track.”
Kligerman will be looking to settle the score at Pocono. In June he fought back from one lap down to finish sixth. He had a very fast car and was the only driver to track down and pass Logano. However, he suffered two flat left-front tires that cost him any chance to win the race.
"If we're going to win at Pocono, we've got to do anything we can to stop from losing left fronts," said Kligerman. "I think it had to do with braking. I never touched the rumble strips. We probably need to open up our (brake) ducts and cool it down more. We'll probably try a little different package aero-wise. The fenders may need to be a little different. They could have been rubbing.
"Pocono reminds me of a road course in one direction. You just keep turning left. It's all about learning your marks and knowing where to point the car."
Kligerman should see most of his competition coming from Justin Lofton. He was the winner at Berlin and at Pocono last month he came into the race as the point leader, sat on the pole and finished second to winner Joey Logano. He is 100 points behind Kligerman heading into Saturday’s 200-miler.
"We're second in points and not that far down," said Lofton. "If Parker were to have trouble early (in the race) somewhere and we have a good run, it can go the other way. I know because it happened to me earlier this year. We fell off in one race. There's a lot left to this season. Enough points racing, it's time to win. The points will fall in from there."
Another reason to look at Lofton is the fact that he races for owner Eddie Sharp whose cars are a constant threat to win in ever ARCA event.
Nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel sits third in points and is still searching for his first win of the season. It could very well happen at Pocono. He has three wins there and has always been a top-five runner.
Look for additional Eddie Sharp teammates to run well also which includes Craig Goess, Tim George, Jr., and Steve Arpin.
Other drivers that should most likely be running at the front will be steady performers Joey Coulter, Bryan Silas and Patrick Sheltra.
If there is a dark horse in the field then the sentimental favorite has to be Lebanon’s Bobby Gerhart, Jr. Gerhart is a master at all the big tracks. He is a five time winner at Daytona and twice at Talladega. Yet when it comes to his ‘home’ track of Pocono, Gerhart has always fallen short.
He has been racing a limited schedule this season so expect to see an all-out effort going into this race. Gerhart has more starts (35) at Pocono than any other active driver.
There will be two other drivers with plenty of local flair. Chase Mattioli of Long Pond and Kory Rabenold of Slatington.
Mattioli is the grandson of track owner Dr. Joe Mattioli and has been racing this season between ARCA and the NASCAR Camping World East Series. He also runs fulltime on the Koni Challenge Series. Last year in this event he brought the house to their feet as he led five laps.
Rabenold recently signed to drive for Andy Belmont. He had been running weekly in the Modified class at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway. This will mark his fifth appearance at Pocono.
On-track activity for the Pennsylvania ARCA 200 starts Friday, July 31 with practice from 10:15 AM to 11:55 AM. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at 1:45 PM. The Pennsylvania ARCA 200 kicks off Saturday afternoon, August 1 at 1:00 PM and is live on SPEED.
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