BARBERVILLE, Fla. – It only took two nights for Carson Macedo, crew chief Phil Dietz and the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41 team to pick up right where they left off three years ago.
The 24-year-old native of Lemoore, Calif., stormed to the lead of Thursday’s 25-lap DIRTcar Nationals sprint car feature on the initial start and wired the field in a frenetic, caution-free main event sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions.
In doing so, he rekindled memories of his first stint behind the wheel of the iconic JJR sprint car.
Macedo drove to a Knoxville 360 Nationals preliminary win with JJR in 2018, and nearly won the 360 Nationals finale, after briefly taking over the ride following the passing of the team’s namesake.
Some of that same magic was apparent on Thursday night, as Macedo weaved through heavy lapped traffic three times and fended off the advances of Wednesday winner Logan Schuchart the whole way.
“He (Schuchart) kept showing me a nose and I thought maybe there was rubber down (low), but I was able to keep sneaking back around him,” Macedo said in victory lane. “Late in the race there, I moved down and started to find a lot of rubber, and the bottom really came in late, probably about the last four or five laps. But I can’t even say how incredibly grateful I am to be a part of this (No.) 41 team. This Jason Johnson Racing team is a really an amazing group of people.
“I had the privilege to drive this car in 2018 and really had a lot of fun doing it, and I had a lot of fun again here the last couple of nights,” Macedo added. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year. Philip Dietz is, in my opinion, the best mechanic out there and I’m really happy with how our team is performing right now.”
In leading all 25 laps, Macedo banked $6,000 for his seventh career All Star victory. It was his first win with the Tony Stewart-owned sprint car tour since Sept. 14, 2018 at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, N.Y.
“I knew I had to go early in the race; I was just trying to bide my time,” Macedo said. “I was actually, for one of the first times of my life, really trying to worry about my tires and think a little more methodically about what I was doing in the race car. I was trying to not make mistakes and not force it in lap traffic. I didn’t want to risk throwing a big slider and running into the cushion and turning over my race car.
“But there late, I just kind of threw everything at it and started really running as hard as I could, making the lapped cars move as much as I could to try and build a gap between Logan and I,” he noted. “Logan’s one of the best ones out there, him and the 49 (Brad Sweet), so to win this race and have them behind me means a lot because I respect them both. They’re very good and I think a win like this makes a statement.”
Schuchart’s final look for the lead came inside of three laps to go, but traffic stifled his run to the inside and allowed Macedo to escape to a 1.817-second margin of victory.
“I thought we were going to have a good shot at him, and I found the middle there a few times. I tried to make that move earlier in the race, and I got to his left rear, but then he’d really get a run coming off the corner. It’s just tough,” said Schuchart. “I thought I had a lapped car work in our favor and we got to him where I thought I had the pass (made) going out of the backstretch, and just got cut off by a lapped car.
“It’s just great to be back up here on the podium. To be able to have two good runs, two good nights in a row, is great and we’re feeling really good going into the World of Outlaws opener.”
Two-time defending World of Outlaws champion Sweet filled out the podium for the second night in a row, followed by David Gravel and Danny Dietrich.
Jacob Allen, Donny Schatz, Joey Saldana, Kasey Kahne and Sheldon Haudenschild filled out the top 10.
Gio Scelzi was the night’s hard charger after advancing nine positions to finish 15th.
The 50th DIRTcar Nationals continue Friday night with the opening night of the season for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. Donny Schatz is the defending race winner.
Sugarlands Shine A Feature (25 laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo , 2. 1s-Logan Schuchart , 3. 49-Brad Sweet , 4. 2-David Gravel , 5. 48-Danny Dietrich , 6. 1a-Jacob Allen , 7. 15-Donny Schatz , 8. 12n-Joey Saldana , 9. 9-Kasey Kahne , 10. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild , 11. 3z-Brock Zearfoss , 12. 5-Brent Marks , 13. 101-Kerry Madsen , 14. 72-Tim Shaffer , 15. 18-Gio Scelzi , 16. 83-Aaron Reutzel , 17. 7bc-Tyler Courtney , 18. 21-Brian Brown , 19. 11-Ian Madsen , 20. 26-Cory Eliason , 21. 19-Parker Price-Miller , 22. 39m-Anthony Macri , 23. 15h-Sam Hafertepe Jr. , 24. 2c-Wayne Johnson .
Lap Leader(s): Carson Macedo 1-25.
Hard Charger: #18 – Gio Scelzi (+9)