CONCORD, N.C. – Carson Macedo isn’t the driver he was at this time last year.
A full year with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will do that to you.
The Lemoore, Calif., driver is wiser. He’s experienced. He knows what it takes to be a full-time Outlaw.
“Racing with the World of Outlaws is just a totally different level,” Macedo said. “A lot of people don’t realize how big of a jump it is to race with these guys full-time. It definitely was an eye opener.
“Anyone who thinks they’re ready is not realistic, I think. But the only way to go out and be ready is to go and start doing it and start getting beat. Myself, I feel like it’s made me, just in a year racing with those guys full-time, made me more aware. I feel like I’m, I’d like to think, a better race car driver. That’s what it was really all about.”
In his rookie year, last season, driving for Kyle Larson Racing, Macedo finished sixth in the Series’ points, won four races and earned the World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award.
He was the sole driver contending for the award, but in the last 30 years of the sport, only reigning champion Brad Sweet’s rookie season in 2014 is comparable to Macedo’s.
Sweet and Macedo are currently the only two rookie contenders in that time period to have won more than two races in their first full-time season – Sweet won five races and also finished sixth in points.
Macedo views 2019 as a successful year for he and his KLR team. It was a year they can build off of. There weren’t many surprises, either. He ran well when he expected to and struggled just the same.
They put together an impressive run in the first 14 races of the season. Macedo earned his second career Outlaw win at Silver Dollar Speedway and only finished outside the top-10 twice.
Then came the three-race Pennsylvania swing. He used a provisional to start the race at Lincoln Speedway and finished 19th and then finished 20th and 23rd, respectively, at Williams Grove Speedway.
“I think I let that get to me,” Macedo said about his poor performance in Pennsylvania. “I think I let it bother me and got my confidence down. So, I struggled for a couple of weeks after that.”
Mental toughness is one of the most challenging elements of racing with the World of Outlaws, Macedo admitted.
For drivers that race weekly at one track and with the World of Outlaws on occasion, Macedo said it can be easier for them to bounce back from a few bad races with the Outlaws. They can return to their home track where they have a lot of laps and success.
“The difference with racing with the Outlaws is when you go to those racetracks that you struggle at or maybe aren’t your strong suit, all those things, you can’t get away,” Macedo said. “You’re going to race Donny (Schatz) and Brad (Sweet) and David (Gravel) and Daryn (Pittman) and Logan (Schuchart). They’re all going to be there. And they’re all still going to be fast. It just forces you to deal with adversity and be the best you can be at the place that maybe you’re not the best at.”
To help with that adversity, Macedo works with sports psychologist Tim Hamel. Several pro athletes such as Tom Brady and Russell Wilson work with sports psychologists, too.
The profession helps athletes set goals, and also provides motivation, emotion management, leadership skills and much more.
“He’s been really good for me,” Macedo said about working with Hamel. “He takes time to talk to me. He’s not a life motivator. I don’t go to him because I have problems. It’s just more about trying to get my head right and getting myself in the right frame of mind. Do what other people in the past have done. Build team chemistry and all of that stuff.”
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