Early Contact Keeps Paludo from 'Sweet' Victory at Texas
Miguel Paludo was a threat early on in the weekend as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) prepared for its second battle of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. After leading the first practice session and qualifying in the top five, Paludo appeared to have the truck to beat in the WInStar World Casino 350. However, early contact and a free condition hurt the No. 32 team early on, preventing them from bringing Anderson's Maple Syrup to victory lane in their first race with Turner Scott Motorsports.
After laying down the fastest lap in the weekend's opening practice session, Paludo backed up his early speed by running fourth fastest in both final practice and time trials. Taking the green flag in his No. 32 Anderson's Maple Syrup/Brookshire's Chevrolet, Paludo experienced a free condition in the opening laps of the WinStar World Casino 350. Dropping to eighth by lap eight, Paludo was scored in 11th when the first caution flag of the night waved on lap 25. Paludo visited pit road under yellow, taking four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment before returning to the track in the ninth spot.
When the green flag waved on lap 29, Paludo began to make up spots, advancing to seventh by lap 38. With the adjustments made on the first pit stop, Paludo appeared to be on a march to the front of the pack when he closed on a lapped truck on lap 55. Paludo was passing the lapped competitor, providing plenty of room, but the other driver was unaware that the No. 32 truck was there and pulled in front of it at a slow speed, forcing the Brazilian driver to make contact with the rear of the opposing vehicle. Paludo sustained damage to his nose and grille, but continued until the caution waved for an unrelated incident on lap 60. Paludo was forced to make two stops under yellow in order to repair the damage and perform a full pit stop. In addition to fixing the front end of the Anderson's machine, the No. 32 team provided their truck with four tires and fuel, sending Paludo back onto the track in 22nd.
With the damage repaired as much as it could be, Paludo's truck was still strong when green-flag racing resumed. In only eight laps, Paludo gained back 10 positions. Reporting to crew chief Jeff Hensley that his truck was now just a little snug, Paludo settled into the 12th position, slipping back to 13th just before the third and final caution flag of the night waved on lap 100. Paludo came down pit road for "the money stop" and the No. 32 team didn't disappoint, providing four tires, fuel and both track-bar and air-pressure adjustments, all while gaining three spots on pit road.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 107, and in the final forty laps, Paludo fought hard with his still-wounded race truck, running times as fast as the leaders and advancing into the eighth position before receiving the checkered flag.
"We were really good at the end; I thought we were going to finish a little bit better than eighth," said Paludo. "We couldn't have asked for much more under the circumstances. The guys were great on pit road all night. They did a good job repairing the damage we had early on and they worked hard to give me a good truck. I'm so happy we were able to give Anderson's Maple Syrup a top 10 in their first race with us; I can't thank them enough for coming on board."
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