ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Parker Kligerman held off a hungry pack of series veterans to win the wild Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care Sunday afternoon at Toledo Speedway.
Kligerman, in the no. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, turned back a late-race charge from point leader Justin Lofton during a green-white-checker finish to earn his career-first victory in his eighth series start.
"I'm just so proud of these guys," said Kligerman. "Thanks to Briggs Cunningham, Kerry Scherer, the entire Penske Racing organization, my crew chief Chris Carrier; I couldn't do it without any of these guys. I wouldn't even be in a stock car if it wasn't for these guys."
Kligerman also survived several late-race restarts inside of 25 laps from the finish to earn the hard-fought victory.
"If you watched last night in the All Star race, Kyle Busch, one of the best restarters probably in this business. We just mimicked what he did, you know, we just played the game. You make everyone else play your game, you don't play their game when you're the leader."
Lofton, in the Lofton Cattle Toyota, finished second about two lengths away.
"It would have gotten very interesting if we could have stretched that race out a little more," said Lofton. "But we ran out of time; congratulations to Parker. He did a really good job out there."
Lofton, who led 93 laps, made a late-race charge from the back of the pack after the Westmorland, California driver made an unscheduled pit stop inside of 50 laps from the finish.
"I thought I had a loose wheel but it turned out not to be. We'll take the second place finish; just hope the crew isn't getting too aggravated with me. I think we had the car to beat today."
Tom Hessert, in the Classic Auto Group Ford, finished a career-best third.
"We had a really good day," said Hessert. "This will give us the momentum we need going to Pocono."
Paul Menard, in the Johns Manville-Menards Ford, slid across the final stripe backwards after getting a tap from Patrick Sheltra off turn four. Nonetheless, Menard still finished fourth.
"That was interesting," said Menard. "I guess the 60 (Sheltra) car was mad at me for what happened earlier so that kind of soured the end of the day. Still, it was a pretty good day considering I had never raced a lap at Toledo. I'd definitely jump at a chance to race here again. Frank Kimmel and his guys set up a great racecar for me so I just may have to ask them to do it again in the near future. Hopefully, next time I can keep the peace out on the race track."
Frank Kimmel was running fifth in turn four coming to the checkered flag when he got spun.
"I don't know what happened there at the end," said Kimmel. "I guess the 60 car was trying to get back at the 98 car and they ended up taking us out in the process. This was a top-five car that finished 13th so I guess I'm a little disappointed."
Matt Merrell, in the ColinsHope.org-Merrell Leasing Service Dodge, finished fifth.
Prior to Lofton's late-race charge, Kligerman also had Ken Schrader behind him inside of 10 laps to go. However, Schrader cut down a right-front tire and hit the wall in turn one ending his day four laps shy of the finish. Schrader's absence opened the door for Lofton to challenge the eventual winner.
Chad Finley, making his career-first start, finished sixth in Brad Keselowski's Chevrolet. Joey Coulter survived several on-track skirmishes to finish seventh in the Darrell Gwynn Foundation-Tempest Cycles Chevrolet. Bryan Silas was eighth in Andy Hillenburg's Oasis Outsourcing Chevrolet. Robb Brent finished ninth in the Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dodge. Darrell Basham finished 10th in the Heatwell-Anti Monkey Butt Powder Chevrolet.
The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway Saturday, June 6.