BARBERVILLE, FLORIDA (February 7, 2024) – The racing off-season rolls by so quickly for these teams and drivers as they refresh themselves and prepare their equipment for the competitive season ahead, while for most of the sprint car fans the gap seems to have been forever since the engines silenced at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in early November. Nonetheless, the sun came up over the beautiful Atlantic Coast in Florida and began to shine down on Volusia Speedway Park. The pit area was filled with stars who were eager to shine and showcase their talents on the opening night of the 53rd Annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals presented by the NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. It was time to go World of Outlaws sprint car racing with 45 talented drivers and teams prepared to battle and get the racing season started.
With such a large field on hand, the field was split into two equal groups, referred to as flights, for time trials in Sea Foam Qualifying. Philip Dietz welcomed in Adam and Ian to the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) team over the break and Cole Macedo was on hand to assist to kick off the season. Carson Macedo had a very successful off-season racing and winning in the Australia aboard Sean and Felicity Dyson’s Complete Parts and Equipment Solutions/Empire Machinery #99N. He was excited and ready to go as he climbed into the cockpit of the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Sander Engineering/Border International #41 Maxim to kick off the team’s quest for another successful season with the Outlaws. The Lemoore, California born native was slated to be the 20th driver to hit the track in Flight 1 around the fast half-mile oval.
When it was his turn to turn two laps, the Kistler Engines power came to life under the hood and Carson was grinning ear-to-ear to get the ponies running at speed. He exited turn four and took the green flag to start the clock on the first lap. He was searching for the right line to generate the most speed as the air flowed over top his Vortex Racing Products top wing. When he raced under the white flag his first lap was measured in 13.771 seconds.
The talent speed pilot stayed on the fast pedal to see if he could generate more speed and traction the next time around. He would find out as the stopwatch doesn’t lie as he raced under the waving checkered flag to end his time trial session. His second lap was recorded in 13.752 seconds. The faster of his two laps was the last one and when time trials concluded his best effort positioned him 14th quick in Flight 1 with 16 year old rookie contender Landon Crawley topping the speed charts in that group and overall on the night with a lap of 13.346 seconds.
Carson’s best time trial lap mired him further back in the starting lineup in the Milton Hershey School Heat Race #2 lineup. He would get rolling from the inside of row four as he paced alongside of Brendan Mullen out of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Tyler Courtney and Brad Sweet led the field to the start of the 8-lap heat race and were followed in row two by Chris Windom and Jacob Allen. Row three was made up of Buddy Kofoid and Brock Zearfoss. Behind Macedo and Mullen in row five were Ryan Timms, Kevin Newton with Justin Whittall being the lone starter in row six as the field rolled slowly side-by-side into turn three.
The green flag was waving with Brad Sweet and Tyler Courtney dueling for the lead with Courtney eventually being scored the leader with one lap in the books. Carson was positioning the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Scott Boyd Family/Schoenfeld Headers #41 around the bottom but was running in the seventh position. The field was spreading out on the fast surface, but Carson had some competition for his position coming from Ryan Timms. Macedo held his line and maintained his position when the two-to-go flags were displayed. Tyler Courtney would not be denied as he collected the heat race win ahead of Brad Sweet, Jacob Allen, Chris Windom, and Buddy Kofoid. Carson came home with a seventh place finish crossing the line behind Brock Zearfoss.
Not locking in one of the five transfer spots in his heat race put the competitor from California in the 12-lap Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown (LCS). The lineup was stout with Austin McCarl and Danny Dietrich starting from row one followed by Brock Zearfoss and Zeb Wise in row two, Spencer Bayston and Cory Eliason in row three, with Carson Macedo situated on the inside of row four flanked by Riley Goodno. Only the top four would move on, so pedal down and a little luck would be needed to advance. The green flag was out with McCarl seizing the lead ahead of Dietrich. Carson was battling from the seventh position as he had his sights set on Eliason and Bayston just ahead of him. This track is fast, so the laps click by quickly. On lap 3, Macedo moved the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/AutoMeter/T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication #41 Maxim by Bayston into the sixth position and was digging for more. Unfortunately he ran out of laps as McCarl took the win ahead of Dietrich, Wise and Zearfoss who all locked in to the feature. Carson came home sixth and would need to use a provisional to start the feature.
The air horn sounded signifying it was soon time to go racing on the opening night of the 53rd Annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals in the $12,000-to-win 25-lap NOS Energy Drink feature. The duo of Brad Sweet and Tyler Courtney would start on the front row as they led David Gravel, Bill Balog, Landon Crawley, Giovanni Scelzi, Rico Abreu, and Brian Brown during the pace laps. Carson Macedo would get the Tarlton and Son/Bandy & Associates/Smith TI #41 Maxim started from the 25th starting position beside Bill Rose. The night so far was not favorable my any means, but Carson and the team were looking to make a little lemonade out of the lemon. After the four-wide salute Brad Sweet led the field on the opening lap. Carson wasted little time getting his JJR ride up to speed as he raced up to the 17th position during the opening circuit. He was showing speed and using his talents and skills to maneuver forward.
The first caution of the night flew on lap 11 when Sheldon Haudenschild’s NOS Energy Drink #17 slowed on the frontstretch with Sweet leading Courtney, Gravel, Balog and Brown. Carson would restart the Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 from the 15th position. The green was back out with 14 laps to go as Sweet maintained the lead with Tyler Courtney staying within striking distance. The Lemoore, California racer was again on the move as he was now up to 13th place as he focused his forward progress on his next target.
On lap 15, the yellow flag was out again this time for Buddy Kofoid who was off the pace rolling to a stop on the track. Sweet was still out front, but Carson would now get restarted from the 12th position. With 10 laps remaining the cup was half full of lemonade. It would be a single file restart and when the green lights lit up Macedo picked up a position as he moved one spot out of the top ten. A few laps later he raced with Brent Marks and lost a spot relegating him back to 12th place. He continued to dig and was now racing with Rico Abreu for that spot with the Abreu Vineyards #24 making his way by. Carson was holding on and lost another position to Justin Peck before the checkered flag flew to salvage a 14th place finish after a tough opening night. By advancing 11 positions, Carson earned the KSE Hard Charger Award. While not the results they work so hard for 53rd Annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals they showed their grit and determination, two qualities that will come in handy throughout the grinding sprint car season for Carson and the JJR #41 team. Brad Sweet took the win over Tyler Courtney and David Gravel who rounded out the podium. Brian Brown came home fourth with Logan Schuchart completing the top five.
A Character Building Night at Volusia Speedway Park Fuels the Competitive Fire! Photo Credit: Cameron Saich – CS Productions
JJR’s Valued Sponsorship Partners: Albaugh, LLC; Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT); Border International; Scott Boyd Family; Saich Family; Tarlton and Son Inc.; Complete Parts & Equipment Solutions; Durst Inc.; High Performance Lubricants, LLC; Kistler Racing Engines; Maxim Racing; Sander Engineering; Bandy & Associates Accountancy Corporation; Boltz Family; Pro Powder Coating (PPC); RaceDiecast.com; Team Jack Foundation; Mark Burch Motorsports; T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication; Xtreme Body and Paint; All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads; AutoMeter; Bell Helmets; Ben Cook Race Car Products; BlackBeard LTD; BMRS (Brown & Miller Racing Solutions); BR Motorsports; Buckwalter Trucking; CASM Safety Products; C&R Racing; ChalkStix; Crow Enterprizes; CS Productions; Engler Machine & Tool, Inc.; Factory Kahne (FK Shocks); Fibreworks Composites; FK Rod Ends; Fuel Safe Racing Cells; Greber Racing Components; Hoosier Racing Tire; Indy Performance Composites (IPC); ISC Racers Tape; Jansen Transportation; K1 Race Gear; KSE Racing Products; LogoDaddy; Motor State Distributing; Mr. Jim’s Racing; Premium Coach Group; Saldana Racing Products; Sam I Am; Schoenfeld Headers; Smith TI; Vortex Racing Products; Walker Performance Filtration; Wilwood Racing; and Winters Performance Products.
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.