OSKALOOSA, IOWA (August 7, 2023) – The busy week of competition ahead was just getting started on the heels of a hectic past three days of racing activities that resulted in an 11th place finish Friday night in the Night Before the Ironman 55 (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55) and a 5th place run Saturday night in the 15th Annual Ironman 55 (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55) before the 12thAnnual Capitani Classic (Knoxville Raceway) got rained out after time trials while the second heat was on the track. The best in the sprint car business began arriving in town, which only signifies the start of a busy stretch of racing that leads up to the premier event on the sprint car schedule – the Knoxville Nationals. The Knoxville Nationals may not pay the most to the winner, but it certainly carries the most prestige as every other race pales in comparison. There is no match for the Knoxville Nationals because it is not about the money, but rather all about the honor and legacy of the exclusive list of past champions. On Monday night, Carson Macedo and the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) #41 team pulled their Border International truck and hauler into the backstretch pit area at Southern Iowa Speedway ready to compete in the non-sanctioned 28th Annual Sage Fruit Front Row Challenge presented by YourLifeIowa. Terry and Lori McCarl, along with their support team, do a tremendous job promoting this event where it is a party and a race breaks out. There were 39 teams registered at the pit gate and prepared to entertain the fans in attendance at this big half-mile racing venue in the “One Night Stand for Twenty One Grand!”
Each driver would get two shots at laying down their quickest lap at the fairground facility. Their performance would be measured individually, but they would be joined on the track by another competitor trying to do the same thing – turn the fastest lap around Southern Iowa Speedway, affectionately called Oskaloosa or simply “Osky” to most fans. After drawing the number 75 pill, the Lemoore, California native would go out late as he would be the 32nd car on the track for qualifying in time trials aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Larry Davis Farms/FK Rod Ends #41. When it was his turn to create speed his Kistler Engines power plant came to life and he gassed it up off the backstretch push lane as he raced towards the frontstretch. He would be out there with fellow World of Outlaws touring partner Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall NOS Energy Drink #17 entry. The green flag was waving overhead and Carson was charting the way forward inside the cockpit of his Maxim Racing speed machine. He was rocketing around the track during his first lap and his efforts were captured in 15.436 seconds on lap one which vaulted him to the top of the speed charts. He stayed on the hammer the next time and was smiling and profiling at speed. He blasted through the first set of turns and down the backstretch sticking the right rear Hoosier Racing Tire into the track’s surface entering turn three. When he exited turn four he saw the checkered flag and raced under it to end lap two quicker at 15.339 seconds. The faster of his two laps positioned him on top of the scoreboard at the end of time trials earning him the $500 Sea Foam Quick Time Award and earning 200 event points for his efforts.
There would be four 8-lap heat races with an inversion of the 6 fastest drivers in each heat. That put Carson Macedo, as the quick timer in the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Durst/Tiger Towing #41 Maxim, on the outside of row three with Lachlan McHugh to his inside on the grid in Oskaloosa TrueValue Heat Race One. That duo followed Sawyer Phillips and Justin Sanders in row two with Brock Zearfoss and Anthony Macri pacing from the front row. Cole Macedo would start from the seventh spot in the Tarlton and Son #21T with Shane Stewart sharing row four with him. Roseville, California’s Colby Copeland and Waco, Texas’ Chase Randall completed the starting field in row five.
The engines on the cars were fired as the drivers in heat one made their way into their position in the two-by-two starting formation. 10 laps. 10 drivers. It was time to go racing at Southern Iowa Speedway to start the 2023 edition of the Front Row Challenge! The front row starters slowed paced into turn four before dropping their right foot to make their 410 engines sing at speed. It was Brock Zearfoss in the Moose’s LZ Bar & Grill to the lead over Anthony Macri in the Clausen Marshall Nos Energy Drink #7BC.
A yellow flag for Sawyer Phillips who hit the inside berm and spun up the track collecting Lachlan McHugh slowed the action. Brock Zearfoss would lead Anthony Macri, Justin Sanders and fourth running Carson Macedo back to the green flag. Zearfoss was in control of the top spot in clean air with Carson looking for a way by Sanders for the show position. Macedo tried the high line in turn one and two but could not make the pass. The next lap he ducked low and attempted to get back but Sanders again shut the door as he wanted nothing to do with it. But the next time around Carson used his Kistler Engines power to drive underneath the Macri Motorsports #39 to gain the third position.
Carson quickly turned him attention to the Nos Energy Drink #7BC driven by Anthony Macri for the runner-up spot. He was closing quickly on the Pennsylvania speed chauffeur, but the laps were also winding down rapidly. He cut the gap to about three car lengths as they raced under the white flag with Zearfoss still in command at the front of the pack. Brock Zearfoss would race to the win as Macri held off Macedo to finish in the runner up position. Justin Sanders came home fourth with Shane Stewart rounding out the top five. Carson earned another 94 event points for his third place finish bringing his total event points to 294.
When the heat races were completed, Carson’s 294 points put him at the top of the event point standings. Kyle Larson came home second with 290 points followed by Scott Bogucki in third with 288 points, James McFadden in fourth with 286 points, and Austin McCarl rounding out the top five with 283 points. Blake Hahn accumulated 279 points to position him sixth with Brent Marks right behind in seventh with 276 points as Justin Sander locked down the eighth position with 275 points.
The top 20 in points after time trials and the heat races would lock into the A-Main. As an extra benefit, the top 8 point drivers would advance onto the Priority Aviation (Foot) Dash, yes an actual foot race that pays $1,500 to win, to help determine their starting positions for these drivers in the Front Row Challenge. Foot Race Heat #1 would showcase athletes from around the world starting with Carson Macedo (Lemoore, CA), Scott Bogucki (McLaren Vale, SA – Australia), Austin McCarl (Altoona, IA) and Brent Marks (Myerstown, PA). The competitors in Foot Race #2 also had an international flair from the Land Down Under featuring Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA), James McFadden (Alice Springs, NT – Australia), Blake Hahn Sapulpa, OK) and Justin Sanders (Aromas, CA). The top two finishers from each heat race would advance into the finals to set the starting lineup in the first two row of the Front Row Challenge.
Each of the eight participants already banked $100 just for making the Foot Dash with $1,500 going to the most fleet of foot. On the initial start of the first heat race, Austin McCarl got the jump but unfortunately he left too early and they had to re-run the event. This time Carson Macedo dug in and darted into the lead as he raced to the win over Brent Marks as those two advanced to the final with Austin McCarl coming home third followed by Scott Bogucki. The second heat race saw Blake Hahn extend his stride to hustle into the lead taking the win over James McFadden to advance both of them into the final. Kyle Larson and Justin Sanders completed the finishing order.
The lineup for the final was Carson Macedo, Blake Hahn, James McFadden and Brent Marks. The four speedster by foot lined up on the chalk stripe with McFadden off the blocks barefooted first with Macedo closing quickly. In a photo finish it was McFadden by a toe over Macedo to earn the $1,500 winner’s check with Hahn coming home third and Brent Marks crossing the line fourth.
Carson had a great night going as he made his way into the $21,000-to-win 30-lap 28th Sage Fruit Annual Front Row Challenge feature at Southern Iowa Speedway against a strong field of competitors with dark skies overhead. He was fast on the track and on foot. He would get the Complete Parts & Equipment Solutions/BR Motorsports/Motor State Distributing #41 Maxim started from the outside of row one beside polesitter James McFadden. Row two would be Blake Hahn and Brent Marks followed by Austin McCarl, Kyle Larson, Scott Bogucki and Justin Sanders in rows three and four respectively. Kasey Kahne and Corey Day were side-by-side in row five ready to go racing.
Last year Carson had led the first two-thirds of this race only to surrender the lead late to the hard-charging and talented Kyle Larson who secured the win with Carson coming home second. Carson was looking to do one position better this year. Philip Dietz, Clyde Knipp and Nathan Repetz worked hard to give their driver a fast Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 hotrod and Carson was ready to have some fun as he raced for twenty one thousand dollars that were up for grabs for the winner. The California native and the other 23 qualified drivers would get that opportunity when the flagman unleashed the green flag by the next time by.
When the green flag was displayed as the drivers came around turn four and it was a drag race down to turn one with James McFadden maneuvering into the lead just ahead of Carson Macedo, Brent Marks and Kyle Larson with Austin McCarl running in the fifth position. Carson was staying close to the race leader in the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) #41.
With two laps down, fourth running, and two-time defending Front Row Challenge winner Kyle Larson was off the pace as he slowed and made his way into the infield bringing out the yellow flag. It would be James McFadden leading Carson Macedo, Brent Marks, Austin McCarl and Blake Hahn when they came back to the green flag.
The Alice Springs native was wheeling the Roth Motorsports #83 got a good jump on Macedo as the driver of the forty-one had some work to do to track him down. Brent Marks was not relenting as he was working the bottom pressuring Macedo for the second position. Macedo held him off and as McFadden caught the rear of the field the slower traffic slowed him up just enough that Carson was able to close in on him. But as the top two were navigating through two lap cars, Carson hit a rut in the track wrong and ran up narrowly avoiding making contact with Austin Bishop entering turn one. That allowed McFadden to speed away and build a bigger lead again.
The race was halted again on lap 14 when Scott Bogucki had nowhere to go after Austin McCarl had a right rear tire explode in turn one with Bogucki getting up and over against the fence. Both drivers were ok, but the red flag was out giving Carson a chance to catch his breath and regroup around his race strategy with 16 laps to go.
The field would come back up to speed under green flag conditions with McFadden leading Macedo, Marks, Day and Hahn. Brent Marks wowed the crowd as he did a wheel stand coming off turn four as McFadden and Macedo raced away. Corey Day moved into the third spot with Marks settling into fourth trying to maintain the position of fast charging Hahn.
They stayed in that running order under lap 15 when Parker Price Miller’s #9P slowed on the backstretch to bring out the yellow. The top five was McFadden, Macedo, Day, Marks and Hahn. They came back to the green flag and in dominant fashion McFadden marched back into the lead over Carson Macedo and Corey Day. He wasn’t wasting any time and stretched his lead to over one second with Carson unrelenting and giving chase.
With 10 laps to go, the leader again had tracked down the slower lap cars. He was coming fast and almost made a race ending move around Austin Bishop as he made his journey through the holes and the slower cars. Carson used the brief slow down to close in a bit, but never got close enough to compete for the top spot.
James McFadden earned the well-deserved victory with Carson Macedo coming home in the runner-up spot aboard the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Boltz Family #41 Maxim. Corey Day drove the Meyers Constructors #14 to a third place finish ahead of Brent Marks and Blake Hahn. Another good run for Macedo and the forty-one!
Delivering His Best Effort Around Southern Iowa Speedway in the Front Row Challenge Carson Macedo Drives to a Runner-Up Finish . . . Again! Photo Credit: Osky Challenge
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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.