Under a full moon in Las Vegas, Miguel Paludo battled back from illness and late-race damage in a caution-filled race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn his 12th top-15 finish of the season. With a fast truck, impressive pit stops by the Turner Motorsports crew and the driver's own endurance, Paludo, who felt ill prior to the start of the Smith's 350, powered through a string of early-race cautions and recovered from damage received in a lap 116 accident to finish 11th in Saturday night's event in Sin City.
After laying down the seventh-fastest qualifying speed in time trials the night before, Paludo took the green flag, only to see the caution flag wave for a spin before the completion of the first lap. After a string of spins in turn four brought out the yellow for half of the race's first 18 laps, Paludo was scored in the 11th position. Although he had few green-flag laps to assess the handling of his truck, Paludo relayed to crew chief Jeff Hensley that the No. 32 Duroline Brakes and Components machine was shoving slightly in turns three and four but good in turns one and two.
When the caution flag waved for yet another accident in turn four on lap 30, Paludo was scored in 13th and still handling too snugly, and Hensley called his driver to pit road for right-side tires with an air-pressure adjustment and Sunoco fuel. A fast pit stop and two-tire strategy put Paludo in the eighth spot when the green flag waved on lap 36. The field would finally see a long green-flag run, and as the track grew freer, so did Paludo's Chevrolet Silverado. The Brazilian driver maintained his position in the top-10 over the course of the next 41 laps.
Running 10th when the yellow flag waved on lap 77, Paludo reported that his Duroline Chevy had been coming to him for most of the run, but was snapping free prior to the caution. Hensley called his driver into the pits for service, and another phenomenal pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment gained Paludo two spots on pit road, lining him up in the eighth position for the green on lap 81.
The adjustments made on pit road tightened up the Duroline truck, allowing Paludo to continue his strong top-10 run. When the yellow flag waved for an accident on lap 103, Paludo came to pit road for what he believed to be his final pit stop of the night, taking right-side tires and enough fuel to make it to the end in another incredible stop. While Hensley commended his crew on their work on pit road, which gained the team another six spots, Paludo, who was still ill, keyed the radio as well, exclaiming, "I'm feeling better after that!"
Taking the green from the fourth position, Paludo laid down his fastest lap of the night, making him the second fastest truck on the racetrack. However, on lap 115, hard side-by-side racing and a slow lapped truck ahead resulted in contact between Paludo and another competitor, and as the other truck spun, it collected the No. 13 in a violent crash. Paludo narrowly avoided disaster by escaping the worst of the crash, but was clipped going through the melee, causing minor rear-end damage and sending him spinning.
Paludo brought his injured machine into the pits for repair and four tires, returning to the racetrack in 16th. Paludo managed to race his way up to 13th by the time the final caution flag of the night fell on lap 127, but smoke from his left-rear tire indicated that the No. 32 had a rub from the damage, and he returned to the pits to once again make minor repairs. Paludo took the green flag on lap 131 from the 13th spot and was able to work his way up to 11th in the final 15 laps, narrowly missing a top-10 finish when the checkered flag waved. Paludo remains ninth in the NCWTS driver point standings, increasing his lead over 10th-place to 11 points.
Turner Motorsports PR