Cars

Brandt sponsors two Xfinity cars at COTA with high expectations

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, gets ready in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef.  That's what's for dinner.  300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) |  Getty Images

By Dustin Albino

For the past 12 years, Brandt has been a go-to partner for NASCAR, specifically supporting Justin Allgaier. It is one of the oldest driver/sponsor combinations in the sport in the top three divisions.

But this weekend at Circuit of The Americas, Brandt will sponsor two JR Motorsports Chevrolets, as he did at three races last year.

Miguel Paludo will drive the #88 car for JRM three times during the 2022 season, with COTA being his first opportunity. The Brazilian driver will also chase a checkered flag at Road America (July 2) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (July 30).

“It’s an honor for me to drive for such a great organization, the Brandt family,” said Paludo. Jayski.com in a conversation on Thursday. “It’s a family business, and I’ve known Rick (Brandt, owner) and the whole family over the years and they’re passionate about the sport.

“Justin Allgaier has been a great teammate, a great friend. There’s nothing better than sharing the same sponsor and representing them this weekend.

Paludo’s relationship with Brandt stems from his collaboration with Allgaier at Turner Scott Motorsports in 2012. While Allgaier was chasing the Xfinity Series championship, Paludo was full-time in the Camping World Truck Series and needed a sponsor. Brandt stepped up his efforts to sponsor Paludo at his home track, Chicagoland Speedway, as the agricultural company wanted to expand into different countries, starting with Brazil. That same weekend, Allgaier would make his Cup Series debut in the bright red colors of Brandt.

Since 2015, Brandt has been a full-time partner of Paludo, as he competes in a series of back-to-back Porsche Carrera Cup championships entering the 2022 season.

Representing Brandt, Paludo has worn many hats to be a small part of the company’s growth. Years ago, when he got into professional racing, he earned a degree in business administration, having a back-up plan in case the race didn’t go through. It’s safe to say he put that knowledge to good use with Brandt.

“When I saw the Brazilian project, it was a small company at the time, and it’s growing every year,” Paludo said. “I’m happy to do the job and happy to be part of it. I’m getting to the point where I feel like I can’t do more. Not because I don’t want to, but it’s growing intensely and I have to focus on racing. At the end of the day, I’m a racing driver and everything else is secondary.

Frankly, when Brandt goes to Paludo in Brazil, the driver is the one who takes care of the schedule, becoming an integral part of the program. Many Brandt clients in Brazil do not speak English, so Paludo can become a kind of translator.

“Miguel has become much more than just a racing driver for us”, Brandt said in a statement to Jaysky few months ago. “He is an integral part of us and greatly helps our team, our customers and our culture.”

Meanwhile in America, Brandt continues to be a mainstay in Allgaier’s #7 car. This year the company will grace JRM in 21 races for Allgaier; 24 in total with the three events of Paludo.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Of course, Allgaier says Brandt, the owner, is nothing like a typical CEO. When on the track, Brandt can usually be found in the drivers’ lounge hanging out with the team, fully invested in improving the No. 7 program.

“It’s been a passion and he’s done more to take care of me in my racing career than I could ever imagine,” Allgaier said of Brandt. “It’s something that’s been very influential for me, and I have a great relationship with them and love spending time with him.”

Together, Allgaier took adventurous journeys with Brandt. Last year, they flew to Tampa Bay to watch the Lightning — Allgaier’s favorite NHL team — win the Stanley Cup. Allgaier also competed in road races in Brazil as a team-mate to Paludo, while also traveling to Barcelona to host Brandt customers at a Formula 1 race.

And whenever Allgaier is done racing, he could find immediate employment.

“Part of Rick’s goal is that when I’m done racing and he’s done sponsoring, whatever it looks like and wherever it is, one day I can go to work in the company and help them. “, Allgaier said. “I don’t know what it’s like in terms of my retirement and his withdrawal from the sport – anything can and will happen at some point – but I consider Rick family. A lot of me want to not drop it every time we finish racing and figuring out what the next chapter will be like.

With two Brandt-sponsored cars on the track this weekend, it could get a bit confusing for observers, Allgaier said. His father, Mike Allgaier, will be one of the watchers for the #7 car and is used to seeing the bright red machine.

That’s not the case this weekend, as Allgaier will be driving a special white Brandt car for just the fourth time. Paludo will be in the famous red car.

But having two Brandt cars in the field, Allgaier said, is a “big deal”.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MAY 21: Miguel Paludo, driver of the #8 BRANDT Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of The Americas on May 21, 2021 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) |  Getty Images
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“One of the things we do with our relationship with Brandt is that most people don’t go out and buy Brandt products,” he added. “They’re not looking for that consumer grab; that’s not what helps their brand. We address a very specific market.

“For us, hospitality is key. Having not just one car on the track, but two, giving the people we bring to the circuit or who are at home watching two cars to cheer on, that’s a big deal. A lot of people don’t realize how important this is. »

Brandt will welcome around 40 people to COTA this weekend, including several guests from Brazil, who are attending a race for the first time. That’s a relief, given that over the past two years sponsors have had minimal on-track activation with COVID-19.

The first time the Brandt cars – and the whole field – will be on track is Friday afternoon for practice and qualifying. Allgaier has won three times on road courses, while Paludo has been running close to the front in his three starts in 2021, having just one finish to show for it.

With the addition of training and qualifying, Paludo believes this will pay off.

“It’s an honor to lead the number [88], but we don’t have any points,” said Paludo. “I have to qualify on time, and I don’t think speed will be a problem, but you never know the unknowns. Our goal is to focus on ourselves, put in a good lap in practice and make sure we have the speed set for qualifying.

Last year at COTA, Paludo’s race was derailed by a broken rear axle, finishing 34th. Allgaier, however, finished a solid third.