Miguel Paludo appeared poised for another stellar night at an intermediate track after qualifying third at Chicagoland Speedway, but adversity struck early when Paludo was penalized for jumping the start when the green flag waved for the first lap of the race. After going a lap down from the pass-thru penalty, Paludo fought his way back onto the lead lap and battled a tight condition before finishing 12th in the EnjoyIllinois.com 225.
After running in the top 10 in both of the morning's practice sessions, Paludo backed up his speeds by laying down the third-fastest lap in qualifying. Making his debut in the BRANDT do Brasil Chevrolet Silverado, Paludo experienced a stellar start when the green flag waved to commence the 150-lap event. Unfortunately, officials believed that the Brazilian driver jumped the initial start, and the black flag was waved for the No. 32 team. Forced to complete a pass-thru penalty, Paludo immediately went a lap down, dropping from third to 31st. However, Paludo and the team were determined to keep the early adversity from affecting their overall performance, believing they had a truck that could compete for the win.
When the caution waved for the first time on lap 14 for a spin, Paludo was the first truck one lap down and was therefore awarded the lucky dog. Returning to the lead lap, Paludo took advantage of the caution period and pitted for fuel and a track-bar adjustment to free up the BRANDT do Brasil Chevrolet.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 19 with Paludo scored in the 28th spot, but Paludo's truck was strong and he was able to work his way up to the 13th spot by the second caution period of the day on lap 48. Crew chief Jeff Hensley called his driver onto pit road and the Turner Scott Motorsports team provided Paludo with four tires, fuel and both air-pressure and wedge adjustments.
Returning to the track in 15th on lap 53, Paludo advanced two spots in the first five laps of green-flag racing. However, the BRANDT do Brasil Chevy was still too tight in both corners. The handling slowly improved as fuel began to burn off, but Paludo was still 13th when the yellow flag waved on lap 69. Opting for track position and clean air over fresh tires and adjustments, Paludo did not bring the No. 32 to pit road under yellow, which put him fifth for the lap 73 restart. Unfortunately, with most of the trucks behind him sporting fresh tires, Paludo was passed once the field went green, dropping to 11th before the caution flag waved for what would be the final time of the night on lap 101.
Hensley once again called his driver to pit road, and Paludo was provided with four tires, fuel and multiple chassis adjustments to cure the truck's continuing tight condition. Paludo emerged from the pits in the 15th position, and the green flag waved for the final time on lap 108. Over the remaining 42 laps, Paludo fought hard to pass his competitors. Picking up three spots in the closing laps, Paludo was 12th when the checkered flag was displayed.
"I really would have liked to earn my first win with BRANDT do Brasil on my truck, it was really special to carry them as a sponsor at their home track," said Paludo. "It was great to race knowing there were so many people from BRANDT here to support me, and I think as a team, we did everything we could to run the best race we could. Unfortunately, we were just way too tight all night."
Paludo's 12th-place finish means that he remains sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings, just one point behind fifth. The NCWTS enjoys an off-weekend before heading to Sin City. The Smith's 350 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.