CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA (November 2, 2023) – As the 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season nears the finish line, all dirt road indeed led to The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, North Carolina for the World Finals. Philip Dietz, Carson Macedo, Clyde Knipp, and Nate Repetz trucked their way to the Tar Heel State from the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) shop in Rocky Mount, Missouri and had their Border International parked outside of the first set of turns. With the big 1.5 mile paved track just located just up the hill, the upper and lower pit areas at the 4/10-mile dirt facility were filled with World of Outlaws Late Models, Super DIRTcar Series big block modifieds, and the World of Outlaws sprint cars all ready to hit the red clay surface. The week kicked off on Wednesday night time trials for the Thursday and Friday night portion of the World Finals racing event with Saturday night being lined up by cumulative points, so Thursday night’s show was on deck and ready to race with 53 powerful sprint cars.
The field of competitors was split into two equal groups for time trials for the Thursday night portion of the show. Carson Macedo was the 16th driver out on the track for his two laps at speed in Low-E Insulation Qualifying along with his partner in crime and brother, Cole Macedo in the Dietz Motorsports #14. This season Carson has excelled in the qualifying portion of the night with a series leading 14 Simpson Quick Time Awards to this point of the season, one ahead of the always fast and expert timer David Gravel. The Lemoore, California native climbed into the cockpit of the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Tarlton and Son/Xtreme Body & Paint #41 Maxim and buckled into his Crow Enterprizes safety belts. When it was his turn to go fast his Kistler Engines power came alive as Carson mashed the loud pedal as he entered the track off turn four. He was building up his speed as the green flag waved and the clock started ticking to measure his performance. Carson hustled around The Dirt Track at Charlotte the first time recording his lap in 13.847 seconds. He stayed focused and determined as his K1 Race Gear racing shoe stayed firmly pressed against the accelerator. Carson had his elbows up and when he came off turn four he saw the checkered flag waving overhead through the shield of his Shifty Illusions custom painted Bell Helmet. When the numbers for lap two appeared on the scoreboard they read 13.931 seconds. The faster of his two circuits positioned him third quick overall in Group A for Thursday’s show when time trials concluded. Sheldon Haudenschild in the NOS Energy Drink #17, coming out of Group A, proved the fastest driver of the night with a lap of 13.694 seconds to earn the Simpson Quick Time Award.
The lineups were composed and posted for the 8-lap heat races that showcased each driver based off their best qualifying time. The first heat race had a whopping 14 cars in it. That positioned Carson Macedo in the first of four heat races where he would get the Complete Parts & Equipment Solutions/Durst Inc./Engler Machine & Tool #41 Maxim rolling from the outside of the front row alongside Sheldon Haudenschild. Cory Eliason and Sam Hafertepe Jr. rolled behind in row two with Zeb Wise and Noah Gass in row three, Jacob Allen and Lance Dewease in row four, with James McFadden and Robbie Price pacing in row five. Ryan Roberts and Eric Riggins Jr. were starting from row six with Tim Estenson and Geoff Dodge in row seven.
With only the top five finishers in each of the heat races locking into the feature, it was ‘go time’ at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The drivers did not have any hot laps to run the track in to get a feel for the surface. The field rolled in sync in their two-by-two starting formation and when the front row starters hit the chalk stripe off turn four they were on the hammer. Sheldon Haudenschild and Carson Macedo drag raced side-by-side down the frontstretch into turn one. Haudenschild won the race to turn one and rolled up into the lead with Carson right behind. The drivers at the front of the pack were fast and it did not take too long before they started to put some distance between themselves and the competition. But behind them Ryan Roberts slid up the track in turn three and made contact with a hard-charging Zeb Wise. The contact sent Wise flipping hard into the outside turn three wall with the throttle sticking wide open. He continued flipping and finally spun to a stop as his engine silenced as he sat idle off turn four as the medics tended to him. After extracting him from the car he went for local observation and returned to the track.
When the red flag conditions were cleared, the yellow lights came back on for a complete restart. The green flag came back out and it was a repeat to the initial start with Haudenschild hustling into the lead ahead of Carson as he won the race into turn one. Sam Hafertepe Jr. was pressuring Macedo for second using the low side through the turns hoping to sneak by the Californian, but Carson powered off turn two in the runner-up spot.
Sheldon Haudenschild was fast and in total control at the front of the field racing in clean air. He was stretching his legs as Macedo and Hafertepe Jr. did the same trying to keep pace. Sheldon began to track down the rear of the field and with two laps to go he caught the slower cars. He was not deterred and when the white flag waved he was still in command. Sheldon would not be denied as he raced to the heat race victory ahead of Carson in the Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 as both would advance to the Toyota Dash. Sam Hafertepe Jr., Cory Eliason, and Noah Gass rounded out the top five and secured the remaining transfer spots out of the heat race to Thursday night’s feature.
Earning a starting spot in the 6-lap Toyota Dash is always important. This was Carson’s 46 WoO dash event of the season. The drivers would pull for their starting spots at the World of Outlaws (WoO) Commend Center. Sheldon Haudenschild and David Gravel would start on the front row with Rico Abreu and Carson Macedo in row two. Brad Sweet and Cole Macedo would be in row three with Tyler Courtney and Giovanni Scelzi in row four. Carson was in position aboard the Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 and ready to go. The green waved as Sheldon Haudenschild drove off the low side as he continued his dominance driving into the lead ahead of David Gravel and Rico Abreu with Carson running in fourth early on. Gravel was working the high side with Abreu running low. Carson was also up top trying to carry his speed and momentum. Rico Abreu was digging and pressuring Gravel for position. He saw an opportunity and made the pass into the second spot as they exited turn two and raced down the backstretch. Carson was right behind, but Sheldon had checked out in the NOS Energy Drink #17. Sheldon Haudenschild won the das as he raced across the finish line ahead of Abreu and Gravel with Carson coming home fourth. Cole Macedo locked down fifth followed by Brad Sweet, Giovanni Scelzi and Tyler Courtney to lock into the feature starting spots.
By virtue of his dash finish, Carson would get the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Smith Titanium/C&R Racing #41 Maxim from the fourth starting position for Thursday’s 25-lap NOS Energy Drink World Finals feature as the air horns in the pit area summoned the drivers and teams to head out onto the track in their speed chariots to stage for the race. I think sometimes it is lost on the fans how incredibly talented these athletes and professionals are that drive and work on these cars truly are. Their dedication, competitiveness, sacrifice, and deep commitment to the sport and their vocation is admirable. They are all here for the same reason – to win – but there is only one winner each night.
No matter where they were starting in the lineup, being the first driver to the black and white cloth was the goal. That pursuit all started when the green flag dropped for the front row of Sheldon Haudenschild and Rico Abreu when they exited turn four. Rico Abreu led the opening circuit with Sheldon Haudenschild giving chase. Meanwhile, Carson was wheeling the Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 from the third spot in the running order and looking to use his speed and talent to continue to work his way forward.
With 5 laps in the books, Brad Sweet moved into the picture as he was now racing in fourth after passing Gravel. He also moved by Carson on lap 8 as these racers were dicing for position. Rico Abreu led up front for the first 13 laps, but he had a gaggle of fast drivers behind him including Carson Macedo, Brad Sweet, and David Gravel. They were all searching for grip as Abreu ripped the top side of the track. Gravel found what he was looking for and stayed discipline working the bottom to perfection. David Gravel used his speed to take the lead on lap 14 with Abreu still ripping the op and Carson meticulously working the bottom around the technical surface.
Carson was making the bottom work too and on lap 20 moved by Rico Abreu into the runner-up position. Gravel was patiently working his way around the bottom and around lap traffic. On lap 22, Carson caught the inside tractor tire hard but maintained control. The contact though allowed Abreu to race back by to regain the second spot. David Gravel raced to the win as Rico Abreu just beat Carson to the line as those two rounded out the podium. Carson explained the technical track after the race, “It just changed a lot. You had to stay up on it, and it wasn’t easy. I feel like early in the race I thought the bottom was going to take over. I was able to get a good start and jump right in there into third and got Sheldon on the bottom in turns three and four and thought I’d just start plugging the bottom and catch Rico. We got into traffic and the bottom kind of gripped up. I could not believe when I moved down in three and four again how grippy it was down there for a little while.” Another great run for Macedo and the forty-one!
A Third Place Finish on Thursday in the Xtreme Body & Paint #41 Maxim for Carson Macedo and the JJR Team Opens the Action at the 2023 Edition of the World Finals! Photo Credit: World of Outlaws
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To stay connected with Jason Johnson Racing (JJR), go to www.jasonjohnsonracing.com.
To stay up-to-date with Carson Macedo and his success journey on and off the track, as well as to purchase his gear and merchandise directly, visit www.carsonmacedoracing.com.