Miguel Paludo was one of the best in the field as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) battled it out at Michigan International Speedway. Paludo earned a top-10 starting position for the Michigan National Guard 200 and led 20 laps on his way to a fifth-place finish, his second-consecutive top five and eighth top 10 of the season.
Feeling confident about the weekend from the moment he arrived at the 2.0-mile Michigan track, Paludo secured a top-10 starting position with a 39.473-second qualifying lap in the morning time trials. Taking the green flag from eighth place, Paludo maintained his starting spot until a caution on lap 17 gave him the opportunity to make his first pit stop of the day. Crew chief Jeff Hensley called for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. With many trucks opting for two-tire or fuel-only stops, Paludo was in the 17th position when he returned to the track. Hensley assured his driver that while others had opted for track position early on, the team would be prepared to save time when it counted on a future stop.
The field returned to green on lap 20, and Paludo moved up two spots before a yellow once again slowed the racing action on lap 27. Now in a position to make a fuel-only stop, a splash of fuel put the AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet in 11th for the restart. Paludo felt the handling of his truck coming to him over the longest green-flag run of the day, and he advanced into eighth by the time green-flag pit stops began on lap 50. Although capable of going much further than his competitors before requiring a stop, a caution flag for debris on lap 57 somewhat eliminated that advantage as most teams prepared for what could be their final stop of the day. Hensley made the call for right-side sticker tires and fuel, as the handling on the No. 32 did not require any further adjustments. The aggressive strategy and fast work by the Turner Scott Motorsports pit crew gave Paludo the edge, and the AccuDoc Solutions Chevy Silverado took over the lead for the lap 61 restart.
Paludo got a good jump on the field when the green flag waved, and after a brief battle with the second-place truck, he began to slowly pull away from the competitors behind him. He appeared to be on his way to victory, but a caution for a wreck five laps later once again closed up the field. With Hensley urging his driver to save fuel, Paludo did not require a visit to pit road, so he remained on the racetrack and maintained the point position.
The green flag waved on lap 79, and while Paludo’s truck was strong, the No. 51 truck had a slight edge on the No. 32 when the final caution flag of the day waved on lap 92. With only six laps remaining until the scheduled finish, the restart was wild, sending Paludo and his competitors four wide after the green. Paludo battled to the finish, but a shuffle in the closing laps put him in the fifth position when he crossed the start/finish line.
“It is so much fun to run up front,” said Paludo after the race. “I can’t thank my team enough, we work so hard and just keep getting better and better every week. I thought that this was our race; I knew going into it that it would be a good race for us. We just have to keep this momentum going straight into Bristol and keep making gains in the point standings. That first win is so close.”
Paludo’s fifth-place finish moved him up to fifth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings. The NCWTS returns to action under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 21. The UNOH 200 will air on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
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