The Frontstretch: Truckin' Thursdays: Miguel Paludo on A Dwindling Season and The Chase by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday September 26, 2013

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Truckin' Thursdays: Miguel Paludo on A Dwindling Season and The Chase

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday September 26, 2013

 

Last time, we left off just before we headed off to Mosport, a race I was really excited about. We had a competitive race there. I got used to the race track pretty quick and got comfortable. We had a great balance, but we never had the fastest truck—we were a top 3, top 4 truck in practice. During the race, we worked our way to the front, and unfortunately the strategy didn’t work out for us. I was leading and we were getting ready to pit when the caution came out. That bunched up the whole field and we lost all of the track position we should have gained. We should have been able to get out fifth or sixth, and I came off of pit road 14th because of the caution with 14 or 15 laps to go. It’s really hard to make ground when you’re that far back in the pack. I finished third and it was good. We made ground on some of the guys in the championship, but we were hoping for the win. Unfortunately that caution killed any chance of that.

I got to see the end of the race where Chase Elliott drove into Ty Dillon for the win. He was going for the win. It’s hard to judge—I just saw it on tv. Chase was going for the win and he made a choice to go inside Ty. I don’t know if I would make the same decision; maybe I could decide better if I was in that position. It’s hard to judge from just watching the tape. I was back in fifth or sixth place at the time. Maybe if I was second, I could make the same choice.

Up next was Iowa. We had chassis 227 that was a really good chassis we had run at Iowa before. We were fifth on the board, made an adjustment and went back to the race track—the adjustment was perfect. I was coming back to pit road and the throttle stuck in the floorboard. It just killed the truck. It wasn’t a hard hit, but after a few hours, my left knee starting hurting since it hit the steering column, and it took about 10 days for it to get better. From the inside of the truck it wasn’t a hard hit. I didn’t go straight into the wall—my right front bumper scraped and then I hit. I think after the Daytona wreck in 2012, everything will be easier. I’m glad I’m okay.

We went to the backup, couldn’t practice at all and went straight to qualifying and it wasn’t good. During the race, it was unfortunately the same way. We tried to work on it throughout the race, but it never had the same balance as the primary. It was a really bad deal because it was a mistake that cost us the truck, and I know we all make mistakes. There was a regular size throttle pedal in there when it should have been a smaller one, so the throttle stuck in the floorboard and changed everything. We were hoping to make more ground on the championship leaders. We were coming from three top 5s in four races, and that killed us. I think we finished 14th in the race—it was a bad day for all of the team. Everybody was upset about what happened.

Last week, we went to Chicagoland Speedway with a special BRANDT paint scheme to announce the formation of the company’s Brazilian division. It was a really fun race for me. BRANDT had more than 500 guests, customers and employees there for the weekend. They had a big tent. Rick Brandt was really excited with Justin’s (Allgaier) Cup debut and BRANDT running Trucks, Nationwide and Cup. We had a fast truck—chassis 600. I qualified third, missing the pole but just a little bit. On the start, NASCAR called that I changed lanes before the start / finish line. I don’t agree with that and I went to the NASCAR hauler after the race, and they said they talked about giving me a warning before they decided to penalize me. Actually, the 3 (Ty Dillon) brake checked because he was going to beat the 4 (Jeb Burton) to the line. If I had stayed in line, I would’ve wrecked my front bumper. That’s why I pulled out—he was going backward. I don’t agree with NASCAR—it wasn’t the right call because it wasn’t my fault. Afterward when I talked to Chad Little, he thought I was right as well, but they made the call. It’s so hard to make ground after you drop back like that. We tried to change our strategy, but we had a lot of cautions and it never worked our way. We finished 12th—I’m not as close to where we wanted in the championship battle.

The last two races have been tough on us—Iowa and Chicagoland are both places I’ve been fast before but we couldn’t capitalize with better results towards the championship battle. From this point on, I’m just looking to get the best I can and try to have some wins and better finishes. That’s what we can do and try to move forward in the championship. It’s pretty hard, though, since we’re so far behind. I need all the guys ahead of me to have bad finishes, but that can happen. It all depends. We’re just going with every weekend and moving forward from this point on.

This weekend, we’re headed off to Las Vegas. The track is pretty rough—not like Atlanta—but it’s pretty rough on the tires. We have six sets of tires and two practices in the morning. The hardest part will be qualifying at 3 PM and running the race at 5 PM. It’s all a one day event. Last year, we qualified seventh and we were running well when the we got sucked around and wrecked to finish 11th. I was really competitive there last year. We’ll be running chassis 600 again this weekend, and I was told that the average finish with this chassis is 7.2 and it’s started in the top 10 in every race we’ve run it. I’m looking forward to a great day. As a whole, the mile-and-a-half tracks have been pretty good for Turner Scott Motorsports. The last two races have been tough on the whole team and I think we’re just looking forward to capitalizing on better finishes.

Over on the Cup side of things, Matt Kenseth has won the first two races, but I think Jimmie Johnson can still catch him. I’m a Jimmie fan. I think Matt has been pretty strong and he has a lot going for him—two wins in two races. I’m sure all of his guys are pretty pumped about it. It’s ten races, though, and I think Jimmie is more consistent over the long haul. I still think he can make it to Homestead, but we’ll see.

When I haven’t been racing, Patricia and I have been working really hard to get a sponsor next year. We’re trying to do everything we can do to be here or even in Nationwide. We’ve worked a lot at home on my sponsorship pack. I’m trying to do everything right to get sponsors. When things go well on the race track, everything else seems to be a lot better. When things are only going okay or bad, it’s not as good. The last couple races have been tough on me and I’m just trying to move forward from here.

I think that’s it for this week. We’re just trying to work hard on next year and at the same time keep the focus to finish this year strong.

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