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Kligerman wins Talladega as Nemechek advances in playoffs

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

By JENNA FRYER

AP Auto Racing Writer

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) Parker Kligerman won the Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, where the focus was on John Hunter Nemechek's desperate push to advance in the playoffs.

Nemechek entered Saturday's elimination race last in the eight-driver field, but could advance into NASCAR's Round of 6 with some help. He got it very early in the race when Chase Briscoe headed to the garage with a mechanical problem, then Kaz Grala wrecked.

But Nemechek was involved in his own accident and Briscoe got back on track. His wounded truck was wrapped tightly in tape, and Nemechek seemed to barely be hanging on as he dodged and weaved several accidents to grab a hard-earned sixth-place finish. It gave him the final spot in the playoffs.

"I never thought we would have finished sixth after the day we had," Nemechek said.

Kligerman won his second career Truck Series race, both at Talladega. This was just his seventh race of the year.

Kligerman has somewhat transitioned into a second career as an NBC analyst while his pursuit of a full-time racing job has stalled. So he enthusiastically collected his checkered flag, then staked it in the Talladega grass.

"I'm out of breath," he said in victory lane. "Geez, out of shape, right?"

Kligerman won the race in overtime after driving to the front past leader Christopher Bell.

"Every move worked. Every move just worked," he said. "Sometimes it goes your way and that's just awesome."

Bell finished second and was followed by Myatt Snider, defending race winner Grant Enfinger and Austin Cindric.

ELIMINATED: Grala's first Truck Series race at Talladega was a bust. He was involved in an accident in the closing laps of the first stage and his race ended. Grala had come into the race with four consecutive top-10 finishes, but was likely in need of a win to advance out of the Round of 8.

"I felt like we really came on at the end of the season and would have been a contender," said Grala.

Grala won the season-opening race at Daytona.

Briscoe was in the garage not long after the race began.

Although he was fifth in points at the start of the day, a mechanical issue forced him into the garage for a quick repair. He returned to the track down 10 laps, but the misfortune cost him a shot at advancing.

He drives for Brad Keselowski Racing, which is closing down at the end of the season. Cindric will represent the team in the round of 6.

"I really wanted to get Brad his first championship and Austin still has a shot," Briscoe said. "We still have some races we can win and that is what we want to do."

UP NEXT: The Oct. 28 race at Martinsville Speedway.

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More AP Auto Racing: http://racing.ap.org/

Updated October 14, 2017

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