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Jul 26, 2013 - 06:18 AM
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Paludo Finishes 21st in NCWTS Dirt-Track Debut
Posted by: newsla on Jul 26, 2013 - 06:14 AM
Paludo Finishes 21st in NCWTS Dirt-Track Debut

Things got a little bit dirty as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) made its debut at the legendary Eldora Speedway. After a strong qualifying run and an extremely competitive heat race, Paludo fought his way back from a lap down to finish 21st in the first ever NCWTS race on dirt.


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In the first dirt race of his career, Paludo utilized the event's three extended practice sessions to experiment with his No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet and learn as much as he could about the 0.5-mile Eldora Speedway. A seventh-place qualifying run put Paludo on the outside pole in an early heat race. Battling hard, Paludo finished third in his heat, putting him 12th on the grid for the inaugural Mudsummer Classic.

After taking the green flag, Paludo felt out the handling of his AccuDoc Solutions Silverado, determining that his truck was extremely free off. Sideways in both ends as the track transitioned from day to night, the Brazilian dropped to 21st before the first caution flag of the race waved on lap 55. With NASCAR mandating that all teams pit, crew chief Jeff Hensley provided his driver with four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Given that the field was frozen by the yellow, Paludo went back to the track still in the 21st spot.

Having been passed by the leaders shortly before the caution, Paludo was now one lap down and the second truck in line for NASCAR's free pass. After the green flag waved, Paludo advanced one position and relayed to the team that his truck was now really good and that he was moving around to find grip on the track. Paludo was 23rd when the caution flag waved on lap 112 for the second segment break of the evening. Although he had worked his way into the free pass position, right before the yellow flag waved, the leader put another truck one lap down, and Paludo once again was the second truck in line for the free pass. Paludo radioed his team that his truck had really come to him on the last green-flag run, calling it "perfect."

Hensley called for a four-tire stop without chassis adjustments, pulling a tearoff and pulling out a battered left-front fender. Paludo returned to his spot for the green flag on lap 113, but it was only three laps later when the caution flag waved again for a multi-truck wreck. Once again denied the lucky dog position, Paludo was still scored in 23rd and unable to make any passes, as he was now the first truck on his lap, despite the fact that his truck's handling was now quite good.

Paludo restarted 21st on lap 125, and could only hold his position until the yellow flag waved for debris on lap 121. Now the beneficiary of the free pass, Paludo was back on the lead lap, but at the tail end with several trucks multiple laps down in front of him. Paludo had just worked his way up to the trucks he could pass for position when the final yellow flag of the night waved on lap 149, setting up the field for a green/white/checkered finish. When the green flag waved for two laps of overtime racing, Paludo fought hard, but was unable to make up any ground, ultimately crossing the finish line 21st.

"This place was a real challenge, but it was a lot of fun," said Paludo, covered in dirt after the race. "No one totally knew what to expect coming in here, so we learned a lot in the process that we can take back with us. We certainly didn't want to finish like we did, but I look at it like Rockingham [Speedway] last year; we struggled the first time and a year later we were awesome there. If we ever wind up running a race like this again, I know that we will come back and be extremely competitive."

The NCWTS next heads to Pocono Raceway on Saturday, August 3. The Pocono Mountains 125 will air live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

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