Paludo at Phoenix ...The 27-year-old Brazilian will make his first start at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway. But Paludo did make two starts at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the K&N Pro Series last season, finishing fourth in the second race there. Plus, Paludo seems to have a knack for adapting quickly to new race tracks, as he has three top-10 finishes in only five career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts.
Top rookie! ... Miguel Paludo's fourth-place finish at Daytona propelled him to second place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings, two behind the leader. Paludo is also atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings after earning Rookie of the Race honors at Daytona.
Miguel Paludo Quotes
You're leading the rookie points, and you're second in overall points. What does that mean to you at this point in the season? "A lot. I want to keep the good mood of the team going. I was thinking when I was in the car at Daytona after the second big crash about all the work everyone has done, from the guys in the fab shop to (crew chief) Rick (Gay), to (competition director) Terry Cook, everybody. It's so cool right after Daytona, the first race, to almost be leading the points and be the best rookie among those 11, 12 rookies up there. I want to keep the good mood of the team going. We were really happy. I want to finish the races. We're building momentum, and we have to keep working."
How do you keep momentum going, coming from Daytona to Phoenix, a track on which you've never raced? "Daytona gives me a lot of confidence, for myself in the truck. I'm more comfortable every time I'm in it. We didn't make any adjustments on the Daytona truck. I know it's going to be like this all year long, but at the same time, I'm really pleased with Rick's work. We're very close, and we know each other. That's giving me confidence. I know Phoenix is a place I've never been at, but I have a good team to support me."
How do you prepare for a track you've never raced at like Phoenix? "I watched the video for last year's race. I do that for the tracks I've never been to."
Since each turn at Phoenix is different, and you have a road-racing background, can you approach it at all like a road course? "It's hard to say. Rick told me that some corners, when you come off the corner, you have a lot of space. Some corners look like a road course. But it's hard to say since I've never been there."
You also have adapted fairly well to places you've never been to. That has to give you some confidence, too. "Yes. And I can tell you, right after Daytona, it gives me a lot of confidence. It was really good for me."
Crew chief Rick Gay Quotes
Phoenix is another race track where Miguel has never raced. How do you approach it with him? "The first few runs of the practice will mainly be to get him comfortable and let him learn the race track. The learning curve's not going to be that steep with his road-course background. Phoenix is a very technical race track, and road courses are very technical as well. You have to have your braking points and your entry and exit to the corners. You have to really be good at that, and that's one thing I think Miguel is very good at, is adapting to different situations. I don't think it's going to be that big of a learning curve. Obviously, he's never been there, so he's going to need a little time to get used to the race track."
Can he approach the track as a road course, since the corners are all different? And can you help him in that regard? "We as a team need to do the things that he asks for in getting used to the race track. That's going to ease the learning curve. If you listen to him and do the things to the vehicle, whether it's a truck or car or anything, they're going to go faster. That's a lot of the learning curve. From the 7 truck standpoint, I don't think we need to do anything different, as far as helping Miguel get up to speed. I think Miguel's going to get up to speed fairly well on his own -as long as we do the right things to get him comfortable in the truck."
You guys are leading the rookie points and second in overall points. How does that sound? "It's a little bit surreal because I've worked with rookies and young drivers before. As far as the ones that I've worked with, Miguel Paludo is probably one the more accomplished racers in general. It doesn't matter whether he comes from Porsche Cup or short tracks around the Southeast. He has a very good feel for a race car, and I think he's going to turn some heads this year."
Equipment Information ... Primary truck: Chassis No. 141. The team tested the truck at Walt Disney World in January and made some major changes to help the aerodynamics.Backup: Chassis No. 65. Paludo drove this truck to a ninth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of the 2010 season.