Carson Macedo celebrates his Wilmot win. (Dave Olsen photo)

Macedo Gets Back In The Winning Groove

WILMOT, Wis. — Carson Macedo admits he hasn’t been himself over the past few weeks. A frightening crash at Knoxville in early June left him rattled both physically and mentally.

He and his Jason Johnson Racing team stayed dedicated. Macedo battled pain. A large supporting cast kept his spirits up. Since the incident, his finishes in the next nine races were solid with eight top 10s but not quite on the championship level he showed early in the season.

And heading into the 10th race after Knoxville, Macedo was beginning to feel like himself again. The result was a revitalizing triumph at Wilmot Raceway on Saturday night.

Macedo rolled by Donny Schatz shortly before the halfway point of the Federated Auto Parts Larry Hillerud Memorial Badger 40 and held off multiple challengers on his way to victory.

The Wilmot win moved Macedo up to four World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car triumphs this season and 32 for his career.

“I’m just thankful more than anything,” Macedo said. “It’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve had a lot of really good people reach out and be supporters. When you’re young you think you’re invincible, but the other week kind of knocked me back a little bit, that wreck. I feel like my guys have never given up on me – Philip Dietz, Clyde Knipp, Nate Repetz. They’ve been trying to give me the best car they possibly can. I just haven’t been 100 percent right. 

“Coming into this week, I worked out all week and was just in a much better mind and place in my head. I felt pretty good about our chances. We were fast early in the night. I felt like we had a really good heat race. We were outstanding in the dash, and they just delivered again in the feature. These guys did an incredible job.”

When the green flag waved on the 40-lap main event, Macedo was on the pole, but Schatz powered into the lead.

As the two entered traffic, Macedo was forced to fend off a challenge in the form of a charging Bill Balog. “The North Pole Nightmare” slid Macedo for the runner-up spot, but he was able to cross Balog over.

Balog’s challenge forced Macedo to elevate his game. Only a few laps after he’d briefly slipped to third, Macedo closed right back up to Schatz’ tail tank as they navigated slower cars. On lap 16, Schatz left an opening on the top side and Macedo promptly took advantage.

After taking the lead, Macedo began to put some distance between himself and Schatz. Then Schatz slipped back a spot as Balog maneuvered by him for second.

A restart that came a lap beyond the halfway point gave Macedo a close moment as Balog got a strong restart. He attempted a slider but couldn’t clear Macedo. The No. 17b drifted up and above the cushion causing him to lose some spots and gift Brad Sweet the runner-up position.

“I was most nervous with Bill. I knew he wants to win really bad and was willing to throw a flyer to try and win the race,” Macedo said. “I kind of spun a little bit off the bottom and could hear him behind me. I went to the top thinking I’ll get a run, and he threw a big bomb and I just barely snuck around him.”

Once he cleared Balog, Macedo cruised ahead and worked his way expertly through traffic. A couple close moments where the cushion tripped him up caused some drama as Sweet closed in, but ultimately Macedo never allowed “The Big Cat” to have a legitimate opportunity at moving ahead.

“I’m thankful to be standing up here,” Macedo said. “When things are going good, you really kind of take for granted just how tough this is out here on the Outlaw tour. It felt really good to be back after lacking performance. Hopefully we can build on it. It’s good to have a little bit of momentum rolling into this week coming up. It’s definitely a big one.”

The runner-up spot belonged to Sweet aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing/Napa Auto Parts No. 49 as he fell just short of his 13th series win in the state of Wisconsin. Sweet is up to 16 World of Outlaws podiums this season and put a little distance between himself and David Gravel in the championship hunt.

“It was a tricky track,” Sweet explained. “It was actually a lot of fun. Lapped traffic was kind of wild there. I had a few close calls. The track was changing a lot… Once the curb got built up, it got a lot trickier. It was kind of a fine line between you either you’d enter with your right-rear too out in front of you and you got loose or you could get yourself too tight, and then you could get it right sometimes. It was a really fine line. It was kind of old school, kind of like a California track. My Napa Auto Parts guys gave me a great car.”

Rounding out the top three was a charging Sheldon Haudenschild.

“I feel like I only made one big mistake over in (turn) three, but it was just tricky,” Haudenschild said. “It was hard to get runs and throw sliders. The top was really fast. I felt really good early, though. We were able to move around, I feel like, probably more than anybody.”

Schatz and Kasey Kahne completed the top five.

Brad Sweet’s lead in the standings is up to 12 markers. With his win, Carson Macedo closed in slightly back in third as he’s now 38 behind Gravel and 50 behind Sweet.

The finish:

Feature (40 Laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo[1]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet[4]; 3. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[10]; 4. 15-Donny Schatz[2]; 5. 9-Kasey Kahne[6]; 6. 2-David Gravel[7]; 7. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[11]; 8. 17B-Bill Balog[5]; 9. 5-Spencer Bayston[8]; 10. 83-James McFadden[12]; 11. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[9]; 12. 1S-Logan Schuchart[15]; 13. 1A-Jacob Allen[3]; 14. 20G-Noah Gass[21]; 15. 71M-Caden Englehart[24]; 16. 3N-Jake Neuman[20]; 17. 23-Russel Borland[22]; 18. 6-Bill Rose[16]; 19. (DNF) 87A-Austin Hartmann[18]; 20. (DNF) 7S-Robbie Price[14]; 21. (DNF) 68-Dave Uttech[23]; 22. (DNF) 7N-Darin Naida[13]; 23. (DNF) 49J-Josh Schneiderman[17]; 24. (DNF) 16TH-Hunter Schuerenberg[19]