For the first time in eight years, Miguel Paludo is back in a NASCAR stock car. On Wednesday, JR Motorsports announced that Paludo will drive their #8 Chevrolet Camaro for three Xfinity Series races in 2021 at the Daytona road course, Circuit of the Americas, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
After enjoying success in the Porsche GT3 Cup Brasil, where he won two straight championships in 2008 and 2009, Paludo went to the United States to compete in NASCAR. After scoring a top-ten finish in his Camping World Truck Series début in 2010, he began racing in the series on a full-time basis the following year for Red Horse Racing. Following a seventeenth-place points finish in his first full Truck season, he moved to Turner Motorsports (renamed Turner Scott Motorsports the following year) and served as a team-mate to eventual champion James Buescher and fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. Paludo spent two seasons with TSM, scoring sixteen top tens, five top fives, a best race finish of second at Pocono in 2013, and a best points finish of ninth during said year.
With his experience in touring cars back home, Paludo also ran two road course races in the now-Xfinity Series in 2012 for Turner. He finished twenty-ninth in his series début at Road America, followed by thirteenth at Watkins Glen International. He also recorded a third-place finish in his lone Truck road race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2013.
“This is an amazing opportunity and it’s hard to put in words how grateful I am,” Paludo stated in a JRM release. “Returning to compete in NASCAR has always been one of my top career goals. It has been remarkable to represent BRANDT Professional Agriculture in Brazil since 2015 competing and racing for championships in the Porsche Carrera Cup. And to now get the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series along with my teammate Justin Allgaier for BRANDT at JR Motorsports for three races is a dream that is coming true. I can’t wait to work with everyone on the No. 8 team and get ready for our first race on the road course at Daytona in a couple of weeks.”
Paludo lost his seat at TSM after 2013 due to sponsorship issues, and returned to Brazil and the Porsche Cup. He won two more titles in the series with the 2017 Endurance Cup and the 2020 Carrera Cup, the latter seeing him score five race wins. In total, Paludo has sixteen wins and fifty-three podiums in the Carrera Cup.
BRANDT Agriculture has sponsored Paludo’s Porsche Cup car since his return to Brazil and will continue to do so on the #8. The American-based company, which has a Brazilian branch, first worked with Paludo for a 2013 Truck race while they began sponsoring Allgaier in 2011.
“We are thrilled to bring Miguel back to NASCAR racing as he has been instrumental in helping us grow our business in Brazil,” Brandt CEO Rick Brandt commented. “Overall, this initiative will enable us to entertain select Brazilian customers at some of NASCAR’s most iconic tracks where they’ll see one of their own take on the best in the world. This is going to be exciting.”
As usual, the #8 will be piloted by a variety of drivers in 2021. Josh Berry will race for much of the early season slate while team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is speculated to continue making one-off starts for the team at a to-be-announced race. Sam Mayer will run the rest of the year beginning with the season’s halfway point at Pocono.