FIRST RACE AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR MIGUEL PALUDO
AVONDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 25, 2011) - Red Horse Racing driver Miguel Paludo had never seen Phoenix International Raceway before the Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and the rookie learned the hard way how difficult the 1-mile track could be.
After finishing fourth in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, Paludo struggled to a 25th-place finish at Phoenix in the No. 7 K&N Filters Toyota Tundra.
Paludo, however, remains in the top 10 of the Camping World Truck Series points standings, slotting in ninth after two races. And he's the second-highest rookie in the truck series.
Paludo spent part of the lone Phoenix practice learning the unique track. Phoenix has four distinct turns, with each end of the track banked differently, with different radius turns. He ended up 24th on the practice chart, and later qualified 28th.
As the race started, leader Clint Bowyer set a blistering pace and caught Paludo a lap down. Paludo continued to drive a steady race, making a pit stop under caution on lap 42 for four tires and a wedge adjustment as crew chief Rick Gay worked on a loose truck.
Thanks to a fast pit by the Red Horse crew, Paludo restarted 24th on lap 48. He raced around that position for the next 60 laps, getting encouragement from Gay and spotter Terry Cook. Paludo improved his line and his position until a yellow flag on lap 107.
Racing underneath another driver, Paludo slipped in Turn 4, and the two trucks made contact. With little grip, Paludo spun and was collected by another truck.
"We hit, and then as we touched side-by-side, I just lost grip," Paludo said. Tough deal."
Paludo lost another lap in the caution as the crew made repairs and sent him back to the track. With less than 50 laps remaining, Paludo went into survival mode, and he came across the finish line in 25th, three laps down.
"Tough day," Paludo said. "We're always learning, but it's so hard because we got a really good fourth-place last week at Daytona. And here we got caught by the leader by lap 30, lap 40. It's hard.
"But it's a learning process, and I think we're going to be good in Darlington. I know that's part of the job. One time you're on the top and the other time you're not. Let's see what we've got in Darlington." Paludo is ninth in the Camping World Truck Series points standings, 12 out of the lead and two behind eighth-place. He is the second-highest rookie in the standings.
The next race for the truck series is the Too Tough To Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway on March 12.
-source: rhr E