Miguel Paludo earned his third-consecutive top-10 finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' (NCWTS) first visit of the season to Iowa Speedway, gaining another valuable position in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings. After topping the speed charts in final practice and qualifying the No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet on the outside pole, Paludo battled in the top five for much of the event before finishing seventh in the American Ethanol 200, putting him seventh in the standings and within striking distance of sixth place.
The NCWTS weekend began with two test sessions, providing the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports (TMS) team with valuable time and data to hone in on their truck's setup. In the weekend's only official practice session, Paludo laid down the fastest time on the board and backed up his speed by qualifying his AccuDoc Solutions Silverado in the second position.
Taking the green flag from the outside pole, Paludo pulled away from the third-place truck, holding onto the second spot until lap 30. As Paludo was passed for second, he relayed to crew chief Jeff Hensley that his truck was a little too snug off the corners. As the laps ticked off and Paludo slipped into the fifth position, he explained that the truck was becoming free on entry while remaining tight off. The first caution flag of the night on lap 56 gave the No. 32 team their first chance to adjust on the handling of their truck, and the TSM crew provided their driver with four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment.
Returning to the track in sixth, a melee on the restart forced Paludo back into the eighth position, but he reclaimed the sixth spot quickly. Paludo told Hensley that the truck was feeling really good after adjustments and that his handling in the middle and off was "incredible." The Brazilian remained in sixth until the yellow flag was displayed for fluid on the track on lap 113. Paludo returned to the pits to once again make a four-tire pit stop with a track-bar adjustment, taking on a full tank of fuel as well.
Restarting in seventh on lap 119, the caution waved again just two laps later for a three-truck accident. The incident occurred directly in front of the No. 32 Chevrolet and could have potentially caused major damage, but Paludo avoided the wreck without any contact. With no pit stop necessary, Paludo remained on the track under the long caution period, restarting in the fifth spot on lap 126. Now that his truck was coming into its own, Paludo was able to make the pass for fourth on lap 133, a position he held throughout a long green-flag run that ended on lap 168. Hensley called his driver into the pits for the final stop of the night, making a strategic call for two right-side tires and a splash of fuel.
Paludo restarted from the fifth spot, and his truck's solid handling allowed him to hold his position and put space between himself and the trucks behind him. Unfortunately, the racing action was slowed by a yellow flag on lap 191, setting up the field for a shootout in the final five laps. Paludo battled in a wild restart, going three wide in a pack of aggressive driving. Avoiding incident, Paludo was forced back into the seventh spot, which he held until the checkered flag waved.
"This was another really solid day for us," said Paludo. "We really should have been fourth or fifth, but everyone was crazy on that final restart and I lost a couple spots in order to avoid what could have been a big wreck at the end. As much as I would have wanted a top-five, I'm proud of the fact that we were so good throughout the entire weekend. Jeff [Hensley] and my guys did everything they needed to in order to give me a competitive truck, and we made a lot of ground in the points. We moved up to seventh and now we're only five points behind sixth. This puts us in a really good place going into Eldora, where we know that anything can happen."
The NCWTS next heads to Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, July 24 for the first ever Truck Series race on dirt. The inaugural Mudsummer Classic will air live on SPEED at 8:00 p.m. EDT.