Miguel Paludo turned what could have been a disastrous night into a top-20 finish at one of NASCAR's toughest tracks. Paludo recovered from a late-race spin and fought his way back from being a lap down to bring home a 16th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The No. 32 Turner Motorsports team made tremendous strides in the day's two practice sessions, ending the final practice with a truck that driver and crew felt could be very competitive in the 200-lap event at the half-mile track. However, the truck's performance in race trim did not translate into qualifying speed, resulting in a 29th-place starting spot.
The UNOH 200 began with an 82-lap green-flag run, the longest period without a caution in the last 15 events at Bristol. Although it meant clean racing on the track, the long run strung out the field on the short track and resulted in many trucks quickly going a lap down. It took less than 40 laps for the Duroline Brakes and Components Chevrolet to be passed by the leader, and by the time the first yellow flag waved, Paludo was scored in 24th and less than 20 trucks remained on the lead lap.
Paludo relayed to crew chief Jeff Hensley that the No. 32 was handling well in the outside groove but was much too tight to race on the bottom of the track. Hensley called his driver onto pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure to loosen up the Duroline machine, and Paludo was scored in 25th when racing action resumed on lap 88. Paludo worked his way into 23rd and into position to receive the free pass by lap 111, but unfortunately, next caution flag that waved was for the Brazilian driver, who spun in turn four on lap 148.
With their tires flat-spotted but the body damage-free, the Duroline crew provided Paludo with four fresh tires and a splash of fuel before sending their Silverado back onto the track in 24th on lap 156. Ineligible to get the lucky dog because he brought out the caution, Paludo was still one lap down, but the closing 44 laps were caution-filled, and the No. 32 team was in the free pass position when the yellow waved on lap 188. Taking the green from 20th on the lead lap, Paludo was able to gain four positions in the closing laps before crossing the finish line 16th.
Miguel Paludo: "We actually had a really fast truck tonight; it was really just our track position from qualifying that we had to make up for all night. It put us behind from the start and once we went a lap down, we had a hole to dig ourselves out of. My Duroline Chevy was really good on the high line; we had so much grip up there. We could have been a top-five truck if we'd gotten onto the lead lap sooner. I can definitely say that I learned a lot tonight and had a lot of fun racing. Now we just have to turn our focus to Atlanta."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads further south to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next Friday night's Jeff Foxworthy Grit Chips 200 on August 31st.
Turner Motorsports PR