A road course ace is making his return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Miguel Paludo will join JR Motorsports for three events while working with Brandt Professional Agriculture.
The championship-winning organization announced the news on Wednesday, December 1, with a press release. JRM confirmed that Paludo will return to the team for races at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Road America (July 2), and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (July 30). He will become the second driver to feature Brandt on his stock car, joining full-time driver Justin Allgaier.
“We are back for 2022!” Paludo said during an announcement in Londrina, Brazil, per JRM. “Last year proved to me that JRM has the best team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and I can’t wait to get back to the track with this group, especially now that we will have the opportunity to practice and qualify this season. I am very excited to again represent BRANDT and Brazilian agriculture on three of America’s most exciting tracks.”
An accomplished driver, Paludo is a seven-time champion and current defending winner of the Porsche Carrera Cup. This 16-race series puts drivers in identical cars so that team skill and driver talent become the only separating factors.
Paludo Has 5 Xfinity Series Starts in His Career
The Brazil native has extensive experience in NASCAR. He ran three full-time seasons (2011-2013) and one partial season (2012) in the Truck Series and locked up 25 top-10 finishes and eight top-fives.
Paludo also made five Xfinity Series starts separated by nearly 10 years. He made two starts for Turner Scott Motorsports in 2012 — a 29th-place run at Road America and a 13th-place finish at Watkins Glen International — before joining JRM for three starts in the 2021 season.
Paludo replaced Josh Berry for three races in 2021, climbing into the No. 8 and posting one top-10 finish. He kicked off his schedule with a seventh-place finish at the Daytona Road Course but only completed half of the race at COTA due to a mechanical issue. Paludo capped off his 2021 season with a 27th-place finish at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
He will now gain more experience behind the wheel of an Xfinity Series car while helping bring back an iconic number. Paludo will share the No. 88 Chevrolet with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will control the stock car at Martinsville Speedway on April 8, 2022.
“I can’t tell you how proud we are to have our brand on the iconic No. 88,” Rick Brandt, CEO & President of BRANDT, said in a statement. “To race the same car number that Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. will drive—in front of our best customers and prospects from Brazil—is just humbling to say the least. I can’t wait to watch Miguel in the No. 88 and Justin [Allgaier] in the No. 7 battle it out and fight for wins in three events next year.”
The JR Motorsports Lineup Will Feature Some Changes
The return of Paludo for three races will only be one of the ways in which the JRM lineup changes. The team will also head to the 2022 season with one new full-time driver and another replacing a retired teammate.
Sam Mayer, the driver who made his rookie debut in 2021, will run full-time for JRM in 2022. He will essentially replace Michael Annett, who retired after the season-ending race at Phoenix. Though JRM has yet to confirm if Mayer will take over the No. 1 or use a different number.
Josh Berry, who shared the No. 8 with Mayer in 2021, will return to the stock car for his first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He will pursue a spot in the playoffs after winning two races on a part-time schedule.
Championship contenders Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson will round out the four-car team. They will pursue even more wins after combining for five in 2020.
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