Jeffrey Earnhardt approached Saturday’s Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway methodically. The 33-year-old racer, and his crew chief Mike Grover, decided to lay back for the early portion of the event, and as a result, Earnhardt had avoided the mayhem that had ensued throughout the race.
With 23 laps remaining in event, Earnhardt finally broke into the top-10 and he had his sights set on finishing inside there in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start behind the wheel of Alpha Prime Racing’s No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro. That is, until Parker Kligerman washed up into the side of his car on the exit of Turn 2 with 12 laps remaining.
The contact sent Earnhardt into the outside wall, which cut down the right rear tire on his race car. In an instant, a top-10 run was obliterated. And the end result was a disappointing 28th-place finish for the North Carolina native.
After climbing from his race car at the conclusion of the event, Earnhardt was not in the mood the mince words about his overzealous competitor.
“It’s pretty self explanatory,” Earnhardt told TobyChristie.com of the incident. “He tried to clear himself and he wasn’t clear. Can’t fix stupid. He’s a smart driver, he’s not an idiot, but that was a pretty idiotic move. I guess he did it a couple of times throughout the race.”
Part of the frustration for Earnhardt is that he has been scratching and clawing for a full-time ride for years, which the same could be said for Kligerman, but to have the first race of the season ruined by something out of your control has to be a tough pill to swallow.
Earnhardt says that he will not be cutting the driver of the No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet any slack for the remainder of the season.
“He has a really great opportunity, but if he’s going to drive like that, he’s going to have a long season ahead of him because he won’t get any more breaks from me. That’s for damn sure,” Earnhardt seethed. “Just proud of the guys, man. Had a fast car tonight. Should have had a really good run tonight.
“Good start to our season that I think is going to be really successful. But got screwed over by some knucklehead that apparently forgot how to drive. You get a big-time ride and your head gets a little too big I guess. As I said, he isn’t that dumb, but he sure acted like it tonight.”
It felt like Saturday night’s race was filled with over-aggressive maneuvers. Moves that almost seemed more desperate that anything else. Earnhardt chalked it up to drivers being over-excited for the offseason being over, and guys just simply driving over their heads.
“First race of the year, what are you going to do? [It’s] part of it. We’ve all been sitting on the couch for too long. We get out here and we’re all amped up and it happens,” Earnhardt explained.
When asked if he would speak to Kligerman about the incident, Earnhardt said not only would he speak to his competitor, but that depending on how the conversation went, he could possibly throw fists.
“Yeah,” Earnhardt answered. “He’s in the infield care center right now, because I didn’t realize he was in that last wreck. Hopefully, he doesn’t end up back in there after I’m done with him.”
That is a big ole heaping helping of beef that was served following the Beef 300 at Daytona. But the saga of Earnhardt versus Kligerman didn’t end there.
The two drivers met again in the garage area after the race, and while fists were not exchanged, a lot of hard words were. And a lot of anger and frustration was aired out.
TobyChristie.com’s RJ Starcevic captured video of the situation in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage area.
Did the two drivers come to a resolution? From what it sounds like in several videos from the garage area chat, Kligerman owned up to the mistake. Whether that is enough to calm Earnhardt remains to be seen. We’ll have to keep an eye on whether this feud continues as the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the West Coast next weekend.
Regardless, I don’t think anyone had a potential feud between Jeffrey Earnhardt and Parker Kligerman on their bingo card for the 2023 season.