Home » NASCAR Driver Shows The Surprisingly Complex Dance Of Passing On An Oval

NASCAR Driver Shows The Surprisingly Complex Dance Of Passing On An Oval

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Most of us are not racing drivers, much as we might have wished our lives turned out differently. One writer’s projection aside, motor racing is an art form and a sport, and one that takes guile, skill, and experience to succeed in. Parker Kligerman is a man that has made racing his business, and he’s here to teach us one of the tricks of his trade—namely, how to pass on an oval.

If you haven’t heard of Kligerman, he’s a professional stock car driver who first raced in the NASCAR Cup Series back in 2013. He’s made on-and-off appearances over the years, while also taking on races in the Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series as well, currently racing full-time in the latter with Big Machine Racing. When he’s not on track, he’s also found time to work as a NASCAR pit reporter for NBC and with Hardigree as co-host of Proving Grounds. [Ed note: As some of you know, Parker is an old friend of the site and we’ve got some more fun planned with him soon – MH]

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The little lesson in racecraft comes from Kligerman’s efforts at the 2023 Kansas Lottery 300, racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. We see Kligerman belting around at speed on the 1.5-mile tri-oval track racing the Big Machine Racing Chevrolet. In this video posted to Instagram, he’s executing a pass on Austin Hill in the #21 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

The action starts with Kligerman trying to get a good run on the car in front by taking a higher line around the corner. This is a tactic often used by oval racers looking to get an edge in speed to pass on an upcoming straight, even if it’s actually a little slower through the corner itself. The high line often allows a racer to take a slightly straighter line and get on the throttle sooner to maximize speed on the straight.

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Kligerman does indeed gain a little, but it’s not enough to pull off the pass at his first attempt. He got a “little loose” in the process, losing grip and falling back a touch. His second attempt goes better, and he gets a good run on the #21, but doesn’t want to get baited into taking the inside line. Doing so could leave him having to back out mid-corner. He manages to hang with the #21, sitting just a few feet off the rear bumper. A chance to get closer or go around is spoiled by touching the throttle too soon. He has the car on the edge of grip, but holds it and stays in the battle.

Having stayed in the killzone, and on the last lap of the stage (most NASCAR races have three stages with drivers getting important extra points for finishing in the top 10 on a stage), Kligerman digs deep. Once again coming on higher than his opponent, he’s hanging on, with the Camaro in front blocking the line driving the center of the track. However, it’s not enough to stop Kligerman’s charge through turns 3 and 4. As his opponent wiggles in the center of the track, he’s able to hold his line while putting the power down and he sneaks by on the inside and across the line.

If you’re so inclined, Kligerman has shared other videos of his racing exploits, too. He recently posted a 4-hour video from his helmet and onboard cameras from a 2021 Kansas Cup Series race on his personal YouTube channel.

It’s a great piece of racing action, made all the better by the way Kansas Speedway enables racers to take multiple lines in these combat situations. Kligerman also notes he was conservative in his approach, both due to a lack of grip and the fact he and his rival were fighting for a playoff spot at the time.

Kligerman has also shared similar content before. He looks altogether more fierce when overtaking a Toyota on a road course, with a healthy use of the bumper.

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It certainly has us wanting to get out on an oval track for some wheel-t0-wheel action. Though, given the cost and challenge in getting a drive even in a lower-end NASCAR series, we might be best suited to battling out on a simulator instead.

Image credits: Parker Kligerman, Big Machine Racing

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Knowonelse
Knowonelse
2 months ago

Stupid Instagram links. I could not find the proper link once in Instagramland.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
3 months ago

Oval racing is, in my opinion, the hardest form of motorsports next to rallying. It’s not just your skill as the driver, but how your car is setup and reacting to it’s changes over the course of a run. Add to that the multitude of track sizes and how they all drive differently, it’s an incredibly challenging endeavor.

I’ve only ran FWD cars in a low class at Slinger and Madison raceway here in Wisconsin, and those are wildly different tracks and the way you drive is much different. Take Bristol Speedway (closest to Slinger) and the fastest line is to come in high off the straight, dive down and take the bottom line, and swing up to the top line again off of each corner. However, the guy on the bottom won’t move so you have to learn how to be fast off the corner and find a different line to force a move. It’s basically trying to setup a corner for 25 laps. Truly maddening and fun at the same time.

I do a lot of iRacing and virtual racing. I’ve found Darlington to be one of my favorite tracks. Riding within a few inches of the wall to get an “air cushion” to keep you rotated through 3 and 4 is truly a skill that can’t be matched. I love running the a lane below during a race because, with fresh tires, you can be side by side heading into 1 and 2 and basically hang it out if the guy to your outside is running the top line. Fun stuff.

I highly recommend folks run some oval races in any game. It really hones your corner craft and helps to make you a better racer as a whole.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
3 months ago
Reply to  rctothefuture

Ovals are definitely underrated by folks who prefer road courses. Hurr durr, turn left lol is about all you ever hear when you mention ovals, until you talk to someone who’s done it.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
3 months ago

In the UK holding the bottom tier of “Race Licence” would allow you the legitimately claim to be a racing driver.

It was available by post and called “Non-race B”, which is vaguely humiliating and doesn’t allow you on a track with other drivers. I had one for doing sprints (single timed lap or hill climb).

I once interviewed a guy who’d listed “race licence” on his CV. After some awkward questions it turns out he didn’t have a race car, hadn’t driven on any tracks, and he’d bought it just to pad out his CV.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
3 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I have a Lemons Competition Membership but it never occurred to me to put it on my CV. Until now, that is…

Chronometric
Chronometric
3 months ago

Regarding the road course video, I am aware that NASCAR tolerates “moving your competitors out of the way”. Applying a soft enough bump to cause them to lift and correct without spinning them is a very subtle skill and you often see drivers get it wrong. As a long-time “gentleman” road racer, I consider using the bumper to be cheating. I can recall a few times that I “accidentally” missed my braking point and nudged a competitor through a brake zone but I try to reserve that kind of behavior for blockers.

Last edited 3 months ago by Chronometric
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago

Great piece! Oval track racing is way more complicated than many people think, and stuff like this shows it’s not just “turn left.” This is why F1 drivers don’t just automatically clean up when they try IndyCar.

I’ve done a little motorcycle oval stuff, and it really opened my eyes to the difficulty involved in something so seemingly straight-forward, even at way lower speeds.

Church
Church
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

This is why F1 drivers don’t just automatically clean up when they try IndyCar.

That’s not what that documentary, Days of Thunder, taught me. I think you need to double check your sources.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago
Reply to  Church

Well, I know they do when they try NASCAR, zee racing car drivers from Formula Uuuun…

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
3 months ago
Reply to  Church

Technically, Cole was already an Indy driver. Then he came to NASCAR. Like Tony Stewart.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
3 months ago

“we might be best suited to battling out on a simulator instead.”

Man, this needs to happen. You can all get a few quick lessons and then it’s on to the Autopian 500!

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
3 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Ohhhh yes.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
3 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

This would actually be a cool concept worth exploring.

Have members, the actual paying ones, submit lap and race times within Forza or Grand Turismo (in lieu of a real simulator) on a standardized track using a standardized vehicle. Take the top 15-25 and livestream a “race”. Winner gets recognition and bragging rights.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
3 months ago
Reply to  Baron Usurper

I play GT7. Feel free to drop your PSN usernames.
So I can block you all.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
3 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

I just gave up iracing. After 3 years of childish banter, toxic Adderall addicted gen z players, and staff having questionable relationships with 3rd parties. I had enough. Now if an autopian league were to exist where we act like adults and have fun, that might get me back.

Last edited 3 months ago by Scott Ross
Santiago Iglesias
Santiago Iglesias
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott Ross

The 24 hours of Lemons league is pretty fun

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