VOLUSIA, Fla. — The first week of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series tour is in the books, and drivers are left with plenty to evaluate as they leave Volusia Speedway Park.
Here are five takeaways from this week at the 53rd running of the DIRTcar Nationals.
1. What Happened To Macedo?
The championship-contending Jason Johnson Racing team had one of the worst weeks imaginable to open the season. To put it in perspective, Carson Macedo’s best finish was 12th on night two.
The team had to use a provisional on night one, scraped into the final feature through the Last Chance Showdown and dealt with several other malfunctions, involving everything from a wheel cover to a bar.
For Macedo, the most frustrating part was not knowing what was wrong.
“If we knew, we’d be faster,” Macedo said. “We just don’t really know what our problem is. Like I said, we’ll try to fix it, but we’re just stuck. We don’t understand why it’s going this way.”
When asked if he felt the team did anything right, Macedo gave a candid answer.
“Honestly, no. The first night we were hard charger, but I can’t say we got better. If anything, maybe we got a little worse,” Macedo said. “The one thing we have done right is the family environment at JJR. We all pump each other up no matter what happens.”
2. A Tale Of Two Rookies
Buddy Kofoid and Landon Crawley both made it through week one of their rookie Outlaw tour, but each driver had vastly different experiences.
Kofoid earned two top-10 finishes at Volusia, including a top five during Saturday’s finale. He dealt with some engine issues on the other two nights, which left the Roth Motorsports team with several areas to focus on for improvement moving forward.
“It’s good to end the week on a high note,” Kofoid noted.
Meanwhile, Crawley’s best feature finish was 19th on night three. But the 16-year-old showed flashes of speed in the No. 7s Sides Motorsports sprint car, which caught the attention of both drivers and fans.
“I really had low expectations going into this. I honestly just wanted to make a feature, so putting it in the dash twice, going quick time and winning one of the dashes — it’s all pretty awesome looking back on it,” Crawley said.
3. A Packed House
The grandstands at Volusia Speedway Park were filled to capacity during Saturday’s $20,000-to-win finale — a record crowd at the three-eighths-mile facility. The pits were also packed all week long, with 45 cars and teams entered in the DIRTcar Nationals.
It was the biggest field at the season opener since 2008.
“It’s great to see a lot of fans turn out and come watch us. I think sprint car racing is definitely in a good place, but I feel like it’s been in a good place for a few years now,” Macedo said. “Hopefully, it just keeps on the uphill climb.”
4. Gravel’s In A Good Spot
David Gravel was the most consistent driver during the week at Volusia, with his worst finish being sixth on Saturday.
Due to the steady performances, the No. 2 Big Game Motorsports driver earned his third career Big Gator Championship at the end of the week and also inherited the World of Outlaws points lead right along with it.
“Yeah, I’m confident. There were other guys who had great weeks as well, but we were just a couple spots better over the four nights,” Gravel said. “We were strong every night, nothing to hang our heads on.”
5. Scelzi’s Good At Salvaging
In the opening 10 laps of Saturday’s finale, it appeared that Gio Scelzi was about to walk away with what could’ve been the sixth win of his World of Outlaws career.
However, after losing comfortability midway through the race, the No. 18 KCP Racing driver was passed by Anthony Macri and ultimately finished fourth in the 30-lapper.
It was a similar story earlier in the week, when Scelzi started out front during Thursday’s feature, challenged Gravel for the lead and slid back to fourth.
“I hate having to salvage the last half of the race. It feels like I’ve been doing that a lot this trip,” Scelzi said. “But leaps and bounds better than we were last year. Trying not to be Negative Nancy, and just work on it and be good for the rest of the year.”
The California native had three fourth-place finishes and one seventh.