Dover Proves to be Real Monster, Resulting in 18th-Place Finish for Paludo
The 'Monster Mile' lived up to its name for Miguel Paludo in the Lucas Oil 200. Paludo battled the handling of the No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet for the duration of the 200-lap event, putting him a lap down early in the race and ultimately resulting in an 18th-place finish at Dover International Speedway.
After laying down the fourth-fastest lap in final practice, the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team believed they had what it would take to tame the Monster. However, a 23.717 second qualifying lap put Paludo 21st on the starting grid. After the drop of the green flag, the field hadn't completed the first lap before a multi-truck wreck brought out the yellow flag. Scored in the 17th position, Paludo had little time to assess the handling of the AccuDoc Solutions Silverado.
Racing resumed on lap eight, and within ten circuits around the concrete track, Paludo remarked that he was free on landing and in the middle at both ends of the racetrack. With the leader pulling out a considerable distance from the field, it was not long before Paludo was taken off the lead lap. When the caution flag waved on lap 45, the Brazilian was scored in the 22nd position, one lap down. Paludo reiterated his free condition to crew chief Jeff Hensley, and the crew took the opportunity to provide their TSM truck with four tires, fuel, a track-bar adjustment and an air-pressure adjustment.
Paludo remained in the 22nd spot for the lap 51 restart and initially remarked that the handling of his AccuDoc Solutions machine had improved, but by the time the caution waved 15 laps later, it was once again getting free in the middle. Unfortunately, a long green-flag run kept Paludo on the racetrack until lap 133, when fuel necessitated green-flag pit stops. Paludo brought his truck down pit road for four tires, fuel and more chassis adjustments before returning to the track. Still scored in 22nd, it wouldn't be until lap 160 that Paludo saw the yellow flag.
The adjustments made on the previous stop had improved the No. 32 to the point of maintaining speeds comparable to the top five, but the truck remained too free. Now two laps down, Hensley opted to call his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment, and Paludo returned to the track in 20th for the lap 164 restart.
Once green-flag racing resumed, Paludo's truck was competitive enough to compete with the leaders, but the laps wound down before the No. 32 could return to the lead lap. Paludo picked up two spots before the wave of the checkered flag, crossing the finish line 18th.
"I'm really surprised by how much we struggled here today," said Paludo. "After final practice yesterday, I thought we had a really good piece for today's race. The good part is that this team never gave up. We learned a lot by the end of the race and we made a lot of improvements. We just couldn't accomplish much without being on the lead lap. Fortunately, we head straight to Texas, which is one of my favorite tracks. I feel like we can redeem ourselves and get our first win next week."
Paludo remains ninth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, four points behind eighth. The NCWTS heads west to Fort Worth, Texas for a shootout at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, June 7. The WinStar World Casino 400 will air live on SPEED at 9:00 p.m. EDT.
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