Miguel Paludo: Following his dreams

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Competing in NASCAR is something many dream of and few achieve, Miguel Paludo is living his dreams racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Growing up in Nova Prata, Brazil, Paludo began racing go-karts at the age of 14 and from there you can say it's history. Paludo began several different forms of racing while still in Brazil including racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge of Brazil. With three wins in the series, Paludo became the youngest champion in series history in 2008. Repeating that title  the following season, Paludo became the first ever two-time champion.

Bigger and better things awaited Paludo, his desire was to race in the United States for NASCAR. Starting part-time during the remainder of the 2010 season, driving for Germain Racing, Paludo make four starts last year. In those four starts he claimed 2 top-ten finishes, in fact his first race - at Bristol resulted in a ninth place finish.

With the start of a new season came new opportunities. Paludo signed with Red Horse Racing to compete and is a contender for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year. In 20 races this season, Paludo and the No. 7 Stemco/Duroline team have 3 top-fives and 6 top-tens with a season best finish coming at Michigan.

I spoke with Miguel as he prepared to head to Las Vegas and as the NCWTS season winds down, with only 5 races to go.

Amanda Ebersole (AE): You have had a big year so far, your first full-time season and becoming a new daddy to Oliver, how do you manage it all? (Miguel and wife Patricia welcomed son Oliver on August 22, just headed into Bristol.)

Miguel Paludo (MP): It has been a mix of things going on, talking about first our year, we have had ups and downs. Starting at Daytona finishing 4th, it was pretty good to kick off the season. Then after that we had some downs, we were struggling set-up wise, but we figured out at the shop that we been going the wrong direction. We changed everything, now we’re back up in the right direction. We had good strong runs like Indianapolis (IRP) and Texas, we led some laps at Martinsville and have finished with 6 top-10 finishes and I had a shot to win in Michigan. (Paludo finished 3rd in Michigan behind winner Kevin Harvick and the second place truck of Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters)

Then to have a child, he is doing great. Life changes a lot. I am trying to deal with those things so far and it’s pretty good.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
AE: I guess it is difficult trying to keep your schedule on track?

MP: You’re right, you’re right! When I go to the racetrack right now, I try to sleep as much as I can, not at the track, I mean at night. When I am at home I am trying to divide time to help Patricia and keep the baby secure and serve him as much as I can.

AE: You have been racing for some time before joining NASCAR, was there one piece of advice given to you that has stuck with you?

MP: Yes, I was a NASCAR fan since about 2000, I started watching and after my Porsche champions I met a man from Toyota. He introduced me to the sport and introduced me to Red Horse and all those guys, so he gave me all that advice. He knew everything and it's pretty hard to understand the whole sport, which has a lot of divisions, and I was glad to have him and his advice to start from trucks. He said once you get to wins in trucks you go to Nationwide and so on, he was Brazilian as well. He was the guy who gave me the advice and was really important for me.

AE: Are there drivers who have been influential in your career?

MP: Yes! Todd Bodine, he is a big guy, because when I entered Germain (Racing) I was running K&N and he was running trucks but we were teammates. He helped me, the first day I met him he was really nice to me and until today, we talk on the phone sometimes and of course when we are at the track.

And of course Max Papis, he is a huge friend and he helps me a lot. Timothy Peters, my teammate, we talk a lot before going to the racetracks.

Todd and Max are the top guys I talk to a lot. Then Timothy, since he is my teammate also.

AE: So you have a good group of people to rely on to introduce you to everything?

MP: For sure!

While reading up on Miguel for this interview, I learned about him being a diabetic and that instantly struck a cord with me, I wanted to know more about this area of his life.

AE: Being diabetic and a NASCAR driver, is that added stress on you?

MP: No, no! It is something that is with me and I do not think about it anymore. When you have something like this, you do not think anymore, you just do it. I do my test strips (testing his blood glucose levels) before I get into the truck and then if I need to I drink something. I always keep around 80 (the average is 70-110), so if I get into the truck and I am 95 –100 I drink a regular Coke and when I get out of the truck I will be around 120. I always manage to keep my levels up, because if they are down that can be a problem. So I always manage like that and I have never, ever had a problem.

AE: With having diabetes, does that make you have to work out harder then all the other drivers just so you can maintain a good level of fitness against the medications?

MP: No, it is the same. When I work out it helps to produce insulin because with diabetes your pancreas is not producing enough insulin. So, when I run or workout and start producing more, it helps me. I work out and am also practicing for a marathon next year in New York. Next month, between Texas and Homestead races, I am going to run a half-marathon in Cornelius, North Carolina. I can tell you that having diabetes is a priority for me because it helps me to stay healthy.

Oddly enough, I found myself educating Miguel on commercial truck driver’s CDL requirements as a diabetic, as I asked him about any special requirements put forth on him by NASCAR.

AE: Is there are special precautions that NASCAR requires for you to maintain your driving license?  

MP: The doctor, she knows what I am taking as far as my medicines and if I change something, I let her know. But, that is not a requirement for something.

AE: You also take your time to reach our to children with diabetes through Camp Independence, is that important for you to show that with diabetes anything is possible?

MP: Yes for sure, its nice when you talk to someone and they have the same disease as you. I talk about my life, how I manage it and how you can do whatever you want – I drive a truck at 200 mph! I tell them that as long as there life keeps moving, everything is all right.

Miguel with the children of Camp Independence 
The cool part, they ask me questions. Like: what kind of insulin do I use, (then they realize that is what they use), trying to be close to me and then realizing that we can do it! It’s real special for me, I ran a hood in Bristol with the handprints of the kids and we are also talking about doing another diabetes awareness truck.

AE: This weekend you head to Las Vegas for your first time racing there, correct?

MP: Racing yes, there – no. The first race I watched as a fan was in Las Vegas, me and my brother were in Las Vegas and looking for some races to see and it happens that NASCAR was there. We went there, buy the tickets and watched the Cup race. Now 10 years later – I am going to be driving on that track, it’s really cool.

AE: So going into a new track – what are your expectations?

MP: My expectations are always high because most of the time we have been good on the 1.5 mile tracks. So looks like Vegas will be like Charlotte, high banking and a lot of speed and I love this kind of a race track. My expectations are to run in the top-10 and if in the end we can run in the top 5 or have a shot at something, it would be great. I just want to run a minimal of top-10 the whole day.

AE: And of course I have to ask – will you be enjoy the sights of Lost Wages?

MP: (laughs) I like the slot machines (Ahh a man after my heart!) I like the .25 cent machines, I do not like the blackjack or something else.

AE: With only 5 races to go, you are 15th in points in your rookie season, which is pretty amazing. What has been your goal for the season?

MP: My goal is right now, top 10. I know that is really hard, but at the same time, we have Talladega and Martinsville, two races that can change a lot. So a top-10 for me would be great for me, for my first year.

Next year, it will be a higher accomplishment for me!

AE: What are your plans for next season? Anything to break the scoop to me? 

MP: We are talking, I do not have anything firmly figured out yet, but we are definitely talking.

The future of this rookie is definitely a bright one, whether on track or through his public awareness with diabetes, Miguel Paludo will be a name to remember.

NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless.Amanda also expanded her area of coverage to include exclusive interviews, brought straight to the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here.. Feel free to follow and contact Amanda via Twitter.
Miguel Paludo: Following his dreams Miguel Paludo: Following his dreams Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, October 15, 2011 Rating: 5