Miguel Paludo looks forward to first Nationwide Series start at Road America this weekendBy Ashley McCubbin
“It’ll be a special weekend, special race for me because racing in Nationwide is a huge accomplishment for me and my career,” Paludo says.
He adds that it’ll be more special because it is on a road course, which is his background after moving up through the road racing ranks in his home country of Brazil.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “I know a lot of good guys will be out there, but I just want to do a great job and show that we’re able to make it.”
Before moving to the United States, Paludo progressed through the ranks in Brazil from go-kart in 2004 to Copa Clio to the Porsche GT3 Cup, winning two championships. From racing then, Paludo says he’s used to turning both right and left, managing his brakes and taking care of the gearbox.
“It’s kind of a different mentality than oval racing,” he says. “Even though when you’re tires wear out here, you have to be even smoother ‘cause these cars are so heavy and the timing has to be perfect.”
He says that he learned a bit about the Nationwide Series car from testing so combining that with what he knows, it does have its advantage, yet he’s also learn some new things this weekend.
“It’ll be a new experience for me as I’ll learn a lot about this car and what it needs to go fast,” he says.
So far this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Paludo sits 12th in the standings with one top 10 in seven races.
“I think we’re doing okay. I hope to run a little bit better,” he says. “We had a really strong beginning of the season. Daytona was really special for me, winning the pole and leading the most laps ever.”
The race at Daytona didn’t end like Paludo would’ve liked, however, as he hit the inside wall hard after some contact from behind. Since then, he says that they’ve been running okay, though they’ve been struggling a bit.
“Dover, we got back on track, running in the top five most of the day and almost finish in the top five, just got caught by the rain,” he says. “Our season has been okay, but we need to do better so I’m looking forward to the next races.”
Despite the numbers not looking the best on paper, he is doing better than he was last year at the beginning of first full season in the Trucks and Paludo says that part of that attributes to the fact that he’s more comfortable in the trucks.
“I know the race tracks and I’m pretty sure we can do a lot better than we are doing,” he says. “You know, it takes time. it’s a tough sport. I’m running with really experienced guys every week and they have been in the racecar for a long time. But at the same time, I’m pretty sure of myself and the guys that I have at Turner Motorsports that we have a good truck and we will perform better. Sometimes if you’re a tick off, it turns into a lot off. It takes you from the top five to a top 15 truck.”
At Turner Motorsports to help bounce information around is a diverse group of teammates, from James Buescher to Nelson Piquet Jr. to Justin Allgaier.
“I talk a lot to those guys ‘cause I learn from them,” Paludo says. “James has more experience than I do so a lot of times, we talk during practices and even on the road course, I talk to Justin and Brad (Sweet) and we tried to help each other. That’s good when you have such a big racing team with so many drivers – many information you can get one from them.”
Paludo joined Turner Motorsports at the end of last year after his contract was up with Red Horse Racing.
“At the end of the year, I was looking for another opportunity and Turner showed that they had great equipment, really strong engines with Hendrick,” Paludo says. “So we started talking a lot about it and the deal really happened late in the season. I think we were after Homestead, we signed the contract.”
Paludo’s move to NASCAR has helped expand to NASCAR to new fans as more people are being exposed to the sport. Paludo says that back in 2010 when he first moved to the United States, Brazil would only broadcast a few truck races while broadcasting the full Nationwide and full Sprint Cup schedule, with some races on delay. However, now they are doing all of the races live.
Paludo says that fans are now watching the races and beginning to understand how they go, compared to the traditional F1 races that most fans were watching.
“It’s hard to understand the pit stops, the race strategy, why the races are so long, why only change so many tires on each pit stop,” he says. “But you know, the fans, they understand that now and we have a lot of feedback on the website, twitter and those things. So it’s pretty cool to do that and have more interest from the fans.”
For Paludo, his most memorable moment in racing is from when he was racing in Brazil when he won his first championship in the Porche Cup.
“I won the championship in the last race, last lap, on the last corner,” he says. “Passed the guy and won the championship there. It was pretty special for me because nobody knew what was going to happen and it happened on the last moment. I never give up that I couldn’t make it and we did it. That made me a lot stronger as a driver.”
A month and two weeks ago, Paludo’s eight-month-old son Oliver was also diagnosed with type 1 diabestes. Paludo ran a special paint scheme at Texas Motor Speedway in response to the news.
“Having them already diagnosing your son, it’s tough, because he doesn’t talk so you need to judge what he needs, how much he needs and what time,” Paludo says. “You can’t make mistakes because diabetes is a pretty thin line between the high and the low. You need to be right in the middle. I think I had eight years to learn about it and now I can use my experience to help me help him.
“So far, he’s doing great and he’s a lot happier baby after we diagnosed him and the blood levels came back to normal. He’s doing great.”