Miguel Paludo battled a tight-handling truck and frustrating restarts in the first of two 2012 events at Iowa Speedway, scoring a 13th-place finish in the American Ethanol 200. The result was his seventh-consecutive top-15 finish of the season, allowing him to maintain his top-10 status in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point standings.
After running ninth fastest in both practice sessions, a tenth-place qualifying run showed promise of a top-10 weekend for the No. 32 team. Upon taking the green flag in the Duroline Brakes and Components Chevrolet, Paludo dropped one spot before the first caution of the night came out on lap six. With pit strategy dictating that it was too early for a pit stop, Paludo remained on track for the lap 10 restart. It would be the first of many problematic restarts for the Brazilian native, as competitors in front of him stacked up and cost him precious track position, relegating him to 14th before lap 11.
Paludo slipped to 15th by lap 20 of the 200-lap event, and relayed to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Turner Motorsports machine was tight off both corners. The leader of the No. 32 crew assured his driver that they'd have his truck fixed up as soon as they had the next opportunity to pit under yellow, which would not come until lap 51. When the caution flag waved, Paludo brought his truck to pit road where his team serviced his Chevy with four tires, fuel, track-bar and air-pressure adjustments before sending him back onto the track in 12th.
The restart cost him a position, but Paludo worked his way back up into 11th-place by the next yellow flag on lap 63. However, a struggling competitor in front of him once again marred his restart, and Paludo slipped back to 14th, a position he held through a very long green-flag run which ended on lap 136.Though making good lap times, Paludo's Duroline truck was still tight on exit, making it difficult for him to get back on the throttle coming out of the turns. With the opportunity to visit pit road, Hillman Jr. opted to give his driver a chance at track position, calling for only two tires, one can of Sunoco racing fuel and another chassis adjustment. The quick stop put the No. 32 in the seventh position for the lap 143 green flag.
Unfortunately, the restart held the same results as the ones prior to it, and when his entire lane checked up in front of him, it cost him several positions. Paludo was scored 11th by a lap 165 yellow, but while under caution, an encouraging Hillman Jr. told him that a top-10 finish was "staring him in the face." After a very dicey restart with three-wide action at the front of the pack, Paludo dropped to 12th place. The No. 32 Chevrolet was now experiencing tightness on entry in addition to exiting the turns, but he held his spot on the scoring pylon through the seventh and final caution period of the evening.
With only 10 laps remaining when green-flag racing resumed, Paludo was determined to have a strong restart and break into the top 10. Unfortunately, another wild restart cost him a position, and he took the checkered flag in the 13th spot. Paludo remains 10th in the NCWTS point standings, 91 points behind leader and race winner Timothy Peters, and 22 points behind ninth place.
Miguel Paludo:"We just couldn't catch a break tonight. It seemed like the only time you could really gain track position was on the restarts, and on every single one we were in the lane that stacked up or behind a truck that was having issues. That was honestly our biggest problem all night. We needed to make some handling adjustments throughout the race, but I think if we'd gotten one or two good restarts, we'd be looking at a top-10 right now. Fortunately, our finish tonight was enough to keep us in the top-10 in points, and hopefully we can have a few good races and chip away at those points."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next heads to Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 21st for the American Ethanol 225.
Turner Motorsports PR