No. 32 Duroline Brakes and Components Chevrolet
Road America – Sargento 200 – June 23, 2012
Miguel Paludo was off to a promising start in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Road America, qualifying in the top-10 and leading more than 16 miles around the 4.048-mile road course. However, with a top-five finish in his grasp, the No. 32 Duroline Brakes and Components Chevy Impala experienced a broken sway bar arm, requiring a trip to pit road late in the race and relegating Paludo to a 29th-place finish.
Paludo took the green flag for the Sargento 200 from the ninth position and quickly raced into eighth place by lap three. With fuel strategy of utmost importance on a four-mile track, strategy dictated that Paludo pit early in the race. The No. 32 rolled onto pit road for a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap six, taking on four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. With many competitors on varying fuel strategies, Paludo was scored 10th when the first full-course caution flag of the day waved on lap 13. The Brazilian driver radioed crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. to inform him that the minor adjustment had made a major improvement to the tightness he was experiencing in turn eight, going so far as to say that the car was “perfect.”
Several cars in front of the No. 32 pitted under yellow, putting Paludo in the third position when the track went green on lap 16. Just one lap later, Paludo surged to first, pulling out to a sizeable lead in four laps. The team’s strategy required Paludo to return to the pits on lap 22, and Paludo relinquished the point position to take on four tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 28th after a quick stop, but his road course expertise allowed him to work his way back up to third once stops had cycled through on lap 32.
The field came under full-course caution for the fourth time on lap 34, and the team required one final pit stop in order to make it to the end of the 50 scheduled laps on fuel. Paludo navigated the Duroline machine into the pits for four fresh Goodyears, fuel, and another air-pressure adjustment for overall grip. Paludo took the green on lap 36 in the 19th position, weaving through the field to the 11th spot by lap 40.
However, while on a mission to reclaim his place in the top-five, Paludo keyed his mic to inform the crew that “something broke.” He described his car’s sudden instability and erratic handling, which hinted at a problem with the sway bar, but he was able to remain on track by nursing the No. 32 around 14-turn circuit. Paludo had slipped to 16th with eight to go, but intended to remain on track unless a caution flag allowed him the opportunity to pit. Unfortunately, the car transitioned from difficult to undrivable, and he was forced to come to pit road on lap 46.
The crew quickly confirmed that the car had broken a sway-bar arm and worked furiously to make a repair, going three laps down in the process. Determined to finish the race, the crew did not give up, and they sent Paludo back on the track to make the final lap and take the checkered flag in the 29th position.
Miguel Paludo: “It was very exciting to make my first Nationwide start, but I’m ready to put this weekend behind me. It had a lot of highs and lows with [teammate] Nelson [Piquet Jr.] winning the pole and the race, but personally, I feel like I just couldn’t catch a break. We absolutely had a top-five car, but once the sway bar broke, there was nothing we could do but ride around. Then it got too bad to even do that and we had to bring it into the pits. The good thing is that we get to move on to Kentucky very quickly, which is a great track for me, and hopefully we can put this bad luck behind us there.”
Paludo returns to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action next week on Thursday, June 28th in the UNOH 250 at Kentucky Speedway.
Fastest Lap: 136.149
Fastest Lap: 136.863
Fastest Lap: 134.655
Laps Completed/Total Laps: 47/50
Laps Led: 4