CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Parker Kligerman figured something was up when Kurt Busch texted him two weeks ago.
When Busch followed with a phone call, he presented Kligerman with an offer the Sprint Cup rookie couldn’t refuse.
“It was kind of out of the blue,” Kligerman said Friday. “He said ‘I know your situation, it’s unfortunate, but this is the kind of call you want to get: Would you be willing to come and practice the car for me and be on standby while I do this double?’ “
Kligerman, out of a ride the last month, jumped at the opportunity to be the standby driver for Busch as he attempts to run both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. His duties began Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Kligerman was hand-picked to practice Busch’s car for the Sprint All-Star race.
Busch remained in Indianapolis preparing for Saturday’s qualifying session for the 500. He was not expected in North Carolina until shortly before the start of Saturday night’s $1 million exhibition.
Next week, Kligerman will practice the No. 41 Chevrolet in advance of the 600 and stand-by on race day in case Busch is delayed arriving from Indianapolis.
“It’s something that is unconventional in our sport, having a chance to drive one of the top cars in a practice session and then be a fly on the wall for the races,” Kligerman said.
Kligerman opened the season with Swan Racing, but sponsorship troubles led the organization to sell of its assets after Darlington in April.
It made him available — and the natural pick — for Busch because the 2004 NASCAR champion was familiar with Kligerman when both drove for Team Penske. Kligerman was in the driver development system at Penske while Busch drove in the Sprint Cup Series.