Miguel Paludo was just a few raindrops away from a top-five finish at Dover International Speedway, but timing and weather put a damper on the day, ultimately resulting in a solid top-15. Paludo led five laps, ran in the top-five for nearly the entire second half of the event, and was fifth when it looked like the race would end prematurely due to rain. However, racing resumed briefly, and a necessary late-race pit stop put Paludo outside the top-10 just laps before the skies opened up, producing a 12th-place finish in the rain-shortened Lucas Oil 200.
Paludo took the green flag from the ninth position, but the No. 32 Duroline Brakes and Components Chevrolet was pushing in the opening laps, costing the truck momentum and causing it to slip to 12th by lap 25. Under the second caution period of the day, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called Paludo into the pits for four fresh tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Emerging from the pits in 22nd, Paludo was able to remain on the track when the yellow waved again just two laps after the lap 27 restart. With many of his competitors opting to pit, Paludo was scored fifth when racing resumed on lap 33.
Now running a bit too free, Paludo dropped to 11th in the next twenty laps, but when the caution flag flew on lap 69, the Brazilian driver relayed to his crew chief that the truck was really coming to him in the last few laps before the yellow. Hillman Jr. once again called Paludo to pit road, and the No. 32 crew serviced the Chevy Silverado with two Goodyear tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.
The two-tire stop moved Paludo up into the fourth position for the lap 73 restart, and with an extremely competitive truck, he remained in the top-five until the day's threatening weather turned to rain on lap 112, bringing out the red flag. Past the race's halfway point and scored in the fifth position while NASCAR officials assessed the weather, it seemed likely that the race would be ended and Paludo would earn his first top-five finish of the season. However, the skies cleared, and after a 15-minute pause in the racing action, the track went green on lap 130.
With much of the field visiting pit road after the red flag, Paludo restarted in the lead, holding the point position for the next five laps. Settling back into second after a side-by-side battle for the lead, Paludo remained in the runner-up slot while running extremely competitive lap times. When the yellow waved for the seventh time on lap 129, Paludo told his crew that the truck was a little bit free from the middle off, and the team was faced with the decision to gamble on rain in the next few laps or pit for fuel. Studying the radar and seeing a window of clear weather, Hillman Jr. called his driver into the pits for four tires, some much-needed fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.
Emerging from the pits 13th for the lap 135 restart, the adjustments set Paludo up to drive back through the field with an extremely strong truck. However, a storm cell that was absent from the radar struck and the skies opened up nine laps later, bringing out the red flag for the second time. Shortly after, the race was called due to rain, and Paludo was ultimately scored in the 12th position.
Miguel Paludo: "I would have liked it a lot better if we'd ended the race under the first red flag, but the weather just didn't cooperate with us today and we didn't quite get the finish we should have. Our truck was really strong in the second half of the race, but the timing wasn't in our favor and we had no choice but to pit. We would have been out of fuel by the second red flag if we'd stayed out. The guys worked so hard today and [crew chief Mike Hillman] Junior made all the right calls. We led part of the race, I gave every lap 100-percent and so did every guy on my team. We have all the right pieces right now, we just need to put them all together with a little bit of luck. I can't wait to get to Texas next week. It's one of the first tracks I ever raced in NASCAR, one of my best tracks, and we're running a special paint scheme. It's going to be a good weekend for sure."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action next weekend on June 8th for the WinStar World Casino 200 at Texas Motor Speedway where Miguel Paludo will be running a very special No. 32 Unite for Diabetes/Duroline Chevrolet paint scheme.