By Alex Nieten
CHILLICOTHE, OH (May 27, 2023) – So many variables that could go wrong go into a night of racing with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars.
A poor pill draw could harm a qualifying effort. A mistimed heat race start. A low draw for the Dash. And of course, the chaos of a 24 car Feature can derail a night at any moment.
Coming out on top of every single one of the phases of a night of racing is a monumental task – one that Carson Macedo managed to conquer on Saturday night at Atomic Speedway.
Macedo sped to the Simpson QuickTime Award, topped CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One, and dominated the Toyota Racing Dash. Then finally, Macedo outdueled Donny Schatz in the NOS Energy Drink Feature before holding off a late charge from David Gravel to cap a sweep of the night at the Chillicothe, OH oval.
And the icing on the cake? Macedo celebrated his 27th birthday the day before, making the victory a belated birthday gift.
“My guys did an incredible job all night,” Macedo said. “Hell of a job to sweep the night. QuickTime. Won the Heat. Won the Dash. And to get the win in the Feature was pretty special. We’ve been on a little bit of a dry spell in the win column, but it feels good to get one tonight. I know we’ve been really close. We’ve been in contention just haven’t been able to close it out but happy with the job that we could do tonight.”
As Macedo mentioned, the victory ended a dry spell – snapping a 19-race winless streak dating back to Volusia Speedway Park on March 5. Macedo now owns 30 career World of Outlaws wins – enough to equal Bobby Allen for 22nd all-time. The Lemoore, CA native is only the third Californian to reach the 30-win mark – joining Brad Sweet (84 wins) and Jason Meyers (58 wins). After struggling early in his career at the 3/8ths-mile, Atomic is now the 21st different track Macedo has won at in Series competition.
“(Crew Chief) Philip (Dietz) just did a great job with my car,” Macedo said. “I think in the past here I’ve really struggled with the car driving around itself center off. I feel like no matter what I did here in the past I would end up with my right-rear hanging off the corners.”
Macedo’s path to his second win of the season was anything but an easy drive.
Starting from the pole, Macedo rocketed to the lead on the opening circuit aboard the Jason Johnson Racing #41 as Sheldon Haudenschild, Donny Schatz, and David Gravel went three-wide for second behind him.
Schatz arose with the runner-up spot and immediately went to work chasing down Macedo. On an early restart Schatz went side by side with Macedo for multiple laps in a fierce battle for lead. Macedo managed to maintain.
On the next restart with 26 laps to go, Gravel slid Schatz to takeover second briefly before Schatz came rolling back by a few laps later. Not long after he reclaimed second, Schatz rolled the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15 on the bottom to perfection by Macedo to lead lap 18.
Over the next several laps, Macedo and Schatz displayed driving excellence with a back and forth duel. Macedo snatched the lead back on the cushion only to have Schatz come back by when Macedo struggled with a slower car.
On lap 24, Macedo roared around the cushion to take the top spot for good. The 27-year-old pulled away from Schatz and held off a charging David Gravel to complete the sweep of the night.
“There were so many stages of the race that I didn’t know where to be,” Macedo explained. “I felt like Donny was making such good speed down on the bottom. The couple times that I moved down I felt like I was in no man’s land down there. And I kind of thought that sticking to the top and whatever that gave me was going to be my result. I feel like the top, luckily for me, cleaned off really nice there with probably about 15 or 12 (laps) to go. And I could just feel myself grip back up.”
Behind Macedo, Gravel claimed the runner-up spot for his Series-best 11th podium of the season with Big Game Motorsports. The Watertown, CT native came away very satisfied with the result and found restart positioning to be vital toward achieving it.
“I made a little mistake on one of the lapped cars but honestly really happy to run second,” Gravel said. “I thought there for a while I wasn’t going to be on the podium, and my car was really good on the restarts restarting fourth. Every time I restarted fourth, I could get a good run down the straightaway. Restarting third on the bottom on that flat I just couldn’t get going.
“We had three different bar combinations in tonight, trying all sorts of things. And to be trying all these things and be on the podium is a good night.”
Rounding out the top-three was Donny Schatz after challenging for the victory throughout the race. The 10-time champion and his team continued to stay hot with their sixth podium in the last eight races. Schatz put forth all his effort, even trying a lower line when the track became top-dominant, but fell a little short of his third triumph of 2023. While he badly wanted the win, Schatz came away encouraged after yet another strong outing.
It’s pretty hard to get back to that bottom once you’ve abused them (tires),” Schatz said. “I tried it and lost another spot, but second or third, it’s not a win so not much difference to me. When you go for the win, sometimes that’s what happens. Hats off to the whole Carquest team. These guys have a great race car. What we did in the Dash was incredible around the bottom line, and we just kind of have good drive everywhere.”
Sheldon Haudenschild and Gio Scelzi completed the top five.
With Brad Sweet finishing 11th, both Macedo and Gravel closed on him in the championship hunt. Sweet now leads Gravel by only 10 markers and Macedo by 14.
Cole Duncan earned the night’s KSE Racing Hard Charger with a drive from 17th to 10th.
Macedo’s Simpson QuickTime to begin the night was his sixth of the season (tied for most) and the 25th of his career.
Macedo’s victory in CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One was the 91st of his career. Buddy Kofoid topped NOS Energy Drink Heat Two for his ninth career Heat win, and David Gravel claimed NOS Energy Drink Heat Three for the 214th Heat victory of his career.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars head to Indiana on Monday, May 29 for Lawrenceburg Speedway’s Federated Auto Parts Memorial Day Spectacular. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo; 2. 2-David Gravel; 3. 15-Donny Schatz; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 6. 71-Michael Kofoid; 7. 83-James McFadden; 8. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 9. 1A-Jacob Allen; 10. 22-Cole Duncan; 11. 49-Brad Sweet; 12. 5-Spencer Bayston; 13. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 14. 9P-Parker Price Miller; 15. 91-Cale Thomas; 16. 20G-Noah Gass; 17. 101-Cody Maroske; 18. 1-Nate Dussel; 19. 4-Danny Smith; 20. 81-Lee Jacobs; 21. 7S-Robbie Price; 22. 2S-Nathan Skaggs; 23. A79-Brandon Wimmer; 24. 83X-Nate Reeser; 25. 99-Skylar Gee