Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Introducing Miguel Paludo

Truckin’ Thursdays is proud to introduce its newest partner, Miguel Paludo. The Brazilian made his Camping World Truck Series debut in 2010 at Bristol Motor Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 77 Stemco/Duroline Toyota for Germain Racing. He started 23rd but took care of his equipment and brought home a solid ninth-place finish; a result he matched in the season finale for Red Horse Racing where he spent the 2011 season.

Fast forward to 2012 and he’s a part of the Turner Motorsports trio with teammates Nelson Piquet Jr. and James Buescher. The entire team started out the year strong, however Paludo wrecked hard into the inside wall after leading 56 laps. Since then, the driver of the No. 32 Chevrolet has scored just one top-10 finish, a 10th at Kansas last month.

I was born in Nova Prata, Brazil. It’s a small city in south Brazil. I was raised there and when I was 18, I moved to Porto Alegre, a big city, to attend high school. After one year of high school, I decided to come to the United States for an exchange student program and I lived with a family in Longview, Texas, close to Dallas.

It’s a small city as well but I loved it and I still kept in contact with my family. I lived there for six or seven months before I went back to Brazil to finish high school and college. (Author’s Note: Paludo holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.)

I started racing because my brother [Daniel] was racing for fun – not professionally – but he was racing here and there. We got the opportunity to race together in the same car and the fourth race we won. So I started moving up quickly. In 2008, I got a really good opportunity to run the Porsche Cup worldwide championship in Brazil.

A lot of people don’t know it’s the biggest one around the world – last year alone, they had 60 Porsches. I was the champion in the first year and got my second championship the following year. At the end of 2009, I got the opportunity to come to the United States and watch NASCAR because it was something that I always loved but was so far away.

My plan was to come to the United States and start slowly. We had a plan for four, five, six years up front and not jumping through the steps. I wanted a chance to represent and try something different. Before that, all of the Brazilian racers were in Formula 1 or going to Europe to race GT3 cars. My main idea was to show that Brazilians can come to the US and be successful, and so far it’s paying off.

I learned a lot during my rookie year that I can use this season, especially with the racetracks. Last year was a big unknown when we went to the racetrack, especially with Charlotte where it’s a one-day event. You have to go there, get used to the track, qualify in the afternoon and then race at night. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but at the same time you’re racing a lot of guys that have tons of laps out there.

This year, I’m going to the races with a lot more experience even though I’m only in my second year in trucks. I’m a lot more comfortable on the race tracks, especially when it comes to feedback. Last year, I learned a lot about what I need especially for a two-and-a-half hour race when my background was usually a 45-minute race.

It was a big difference and there we had computers and all sorts of technology that we could use to see the setups, but once I came here, it was only the drivers and the crew chiefs. Last year was a good year to learn – I’m still learning for sure – but I’m a lot more comfortable this year.

When I came to the US in 2010, I raced for Germain Racing, so I’ve known my crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., a long time. For him to be a champion crew chief means a lot. Every relationship takes a while, but now I think we are headed the right direction. His experience makes things much easier for us – I tell him what I need and he’s made the changes and helped send us the right direction faster.

The move to Turner Motorsports didn’t bring as much change as my point of view and experience did. Having two teammates is helpful because we can help each other and exchange information. Piquet is my friend – he’s Brazilian as well – and we talk a lot. I like Buescher a lot too and we exchange information all the time. I think it’s a help to be with the new team, but I don’t think it’s a huge difference from last year.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Charlotte is a unique track for me – last year once I ran the first lap on the track, I loved it. I’m looking forward to this weekend. Last year, we had a good run there – we qualified 12th and were running in the top 10 when the engine blew up.

It was a tough moment, but I’m looking forward to working with Mike and my boys for this week. After the run we had at Kansas (10th), I’m confident about how things are moving and we’re taking the same truck we raced there.

Getting a little more personal, last week we were headed to Charleston to enjoy a few days off. My mom was here from Brazil and we wanted to relax a little. But we went straight to the hospital because Oliver (Paludo’s 8-month-old son) wasn’t feeling really well last Tuesday afternoon. That’s when we came out with the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.

I think the last seven days have been the most difficult days of my life. It’s so hard to see your child getting shots and getting blood tests for glucose is not easy. I was 20 years old when I was diagnosed, so I’ve had diabetes for eight years. If I’m not wrong, I talked to the doctor and Oliver had a 6% chance of having diabetes. I was kidding with my wife Patricia – she said I want a baby like you and I think I did a good job because he looks like me and has diabetes at eight months.

It’s going to take time but I just want to spread the word that you can do whatever you want or dream for even if you have diabetes and Oliver is a big inspiration for me. I think my diabetes diagnosis eight years ago had a purpose – it gave me time to learn all about it.

Now I can train and teach him how to handle it. It was still a pretty tough day, though. I wasn’t racing that weekend and I wanted to just focus on the family and on him. And today he’s doing a lot better so I’m a happy father.

When I was diagnosed, I had the chance to use insulin pumps, but I was racing so I didn’t think too much about it. We went to the doctor on Friday and he recommended an insulin pump as the best solution for Oliver, so that’s what we decided to do. We went Monday for a whole day training and had a little bit of problem in his first night with the needle, but they came by and took care of it when they came by to take a look at it.

I don’t know if he’ll use the pump forever but diabetes is for the rest of your life. I hope he’ll learn as a child how to use the pump and get used to it, and if he doesn’t like it, he can move to the treatment I do with shots.

I think it’s going to be good for him, though. Our approach with his diabetes is that we show him everything we do. It’s not like he’s going to take a shot and we hide it from him until he gets the shot and then start crying. He’s unbelievable – when I do the glucose test, I ask him for his finger and he gives me the hand. He looks at me when I do everything and he never cries.

I think the way we’re doing things is preparing him to understand the diabetes, understand what he needs to do and once he figures it all out, it’ll be easier for him to lead a normal life.

It’s tough for me having diabetes and it was hard for me to handle the diagnosis of my 8-month-old. Imagine being a family with a first-time diagnosis. We are interested in starting a program where we can go talk to those families and show them Oliver and how you can live with it. It’s an idea to show we’re going to do as much as we can to help people and try to change the approach people take with it.

Do you have a question you’d like to see Miguel Paludo answer in a future diary? Leave them in the comments below or email them to Beth Lunkenheimer and look for your question in next month’s edition.

For more information about diabetes and what you can do to help with research, visit the American Diabetes Association website. If you’re interested in donating to the cause, click here or visit Beth Lunkenheimer’s fundraising page for the Nov. 10 Step Out: Walk to End Diabetes in Dallas.

Previewing the North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date: Friday, May 18
Length: 134 laps/200 miles
Broadcast Information: 8:00 p.m. ET on SPEED
Weather Forecast: Mostly Sunny; High 78, Low 54

Did You Know?

  • There have been just five race winners in nine events at Charlotte? Kyle Busch has four victories at the mile-and-a-half track and Ron Hornaday Jr. is the only other multi-time winner with two. Matt Crafton, Ted Musgrave and Dennis Setzer have each visited victory lane once.
  • Mike Skinner holds the qualifying record at Charlotte? He posted a speed of 183.051 mph on May 20, 2005 for his first of three consecutive poles at the track.
  • Last year’s event tied the record for most cautions and broke the one for most caution laps? The 2011 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 featured 10 cautions for 47 laps.
  • No race winner has started outside the top 20 at Charlotte and only two started outside the top 10? Busch grabbed a win in the 2006 Quaker Steak and Lube 200 after starting 20th and Crafton took the victory in the 2008 North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Drivers and Crew Members on Racing at Charlotte

“Charlotte is unique for a mile-and-a-half [track]. It’s definitely shaped differently than other mile-and-a-halfs we go to. It has a little bit different pavement construction and those two things kind of add to the racing you see.” – Parker Kligerman

“Charlotte Motor Speedway is really sensitive to temperature. Since the schedule calls for practice during the day and racing at night, it is going to be a tough path to get the truck where it needs to be.” – Chris Rice, crew chief for John Wes Townley

“For two weeks, there is just a great atmosphere around Charlotte. Between the All-Star race and the 600, there are a lot of people around and it’s a lot of fun. As far as the Truck Series schedule goes, I think you have to consider this race to be one of the biggest of the year. You have to have a good-handling truck, but the key is not to overdrive it. Charlotte is a track that will lull you into driving harder than you should.” – Jason Leffler

About the author

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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