CHICO, CALIFORNIA (September 7, 2023) – As the finish line of the 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season appears closer on the horizon, Carson Macedo and the traveling band of speed stars headed to The Golden State for the first time this season. California is home to Macedo as he heads back every chance he gets when the schedule allows. But there is nothing that makes him happier than to compete and do what he loves to do close to “home” around family and friends. He is a two-time preliminary night winner so far in his young career. Back in 2014, in only his sixth World of Outlaws (WoO) start, Carson picked up his first career WoO victory here at the Gold Cup aboard the Tarlton and Son #21. Last year (2022) he parked the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) #41 in victory lane on the second preliminary night. Now that is pretty sweet!
There were 60 race teams pre-entered for the Curb Records 69th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions presented by Riebes NAPA Auto Parts three-day event at Silver Dollar Speedway. The field would be split into two relatively equal groups to compete separately on the preliminary nights to be held Thursday and Friday. The Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) entry, with Carson Macedo in the cockpit, would race as part of the opening night on Thursday aboard the Albaugh – Your Alternative/Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Factory (FK) Kahne Shocks #41. The weather was perfect for racing as the race promotion team put the finishing touches on the race surface. It would be another calculator type of event with drivers earning points every time they hit the track to compete as 26 would take their shot on Thursday night.
Their first opportunity to score points would be in qualifying where the fastest driver earns 100 points with a one point drop off for each position behind on the speed charts. The time trial order was established by random draw for Low-E Insulation Qualifying with Carson set to hit the track 25th out of the 26 drivers competing on Thursday night. He would get two laps to get the most out of his Maxim Racing speed machine with his best lap standing and positioning him in the final rank order. He climbed into the cockpit and secured his red Crow Enterprizes safety belts. He buckled the chin strap on his Bell Racing helmet and slipped on his K1 Race Gear gloves. His mind was already racing as he finalized his speed strategy while waiting his turn. With the assistance of the pace truck, his engine fired as he immediately went to work building up his speed as he headed towards the flagstand. The green flag was waving and his work was being timed as the fans in the stands enjoyed the sprint car speed show. He maneuvered through the first set of turns on the outside and screamed down the back straightaway. He was up on the wheel and made quick work of the last set of turns and when he crossed the start/finish line the first time the clock stopped in 11.996 seconds vaulting him to the top of the speed charts. He paid no attention as he was already working around Silver Dollar a second time looking for anything he may have lost the first time around. He exited the Durst/Complete Parts & Equipment Solutions/FK Rod Ends #41 out of turn four and under the waving checkered flag to end his time trial session. His second lap was much worse as the numbers on the stopwatch reflected 13.173 seconds. The faster of his two circuits ended up being the quickest overall when qualifying concluded earning him the Simpson Quick Time Award, and the 100 maximum points available in time trials.
The lineups were posted for the four 10-lap qualifying heat races where only the top five finishers would transfer on to the feature event later in the evening. There would be another 100 points up for grabs for the winner with each finishing position behind them getting two less points than the driver in front of them in the finishing order. Unlike the traditional WoO format though, there would also be a six car inversion of the fastest cars in each heat race, putting the drivers who timed the best back in row three. That would mean that Carson would be slated to get the Liquid Trucking/Border International/Weld Racing #41 started from the sixth starting spot located on the outside of row three. He would roll in alongside fellow native Californian Brad Sweet in the NAPA Auto Parts #49. Marysville, California’s Dawson Hammes would start from the pole with another Californian Andy Forsberg to his outside. The second row would also represent the West Coast state with Kaleb Montgomery and Kalib Henry in row two. The only non-Californian would be Karl Hoffmans, an Australian, by his lonesome in row four.
It was mash and go time at Silver Dollar Speedway. The green flag was out and the engines purred because they had mufflers on as required in California, as the field came off turn four. The dirt was flying and so were the drivers around this quarter mile bullring. There was exciting races for positions everywhere from the front to the back with Andy Forsberg jumping into the top spot and leading the pack. Carson had the Albaugh #41 running in sixth place as he tried to make a pass on the high side entering turn one on the opening lap but could not complete it. HE was not about to give up and at the halfway point of the race dove underneath Brad Sweet entering turn one and drifting up in front of him to exit turn two in the fifth spot. Forsberg was still leading Kalib Henry when the white flag came out. Carson was still digging too in the Albaugh #41 as he motored by Dawson Hammes to take the fourth spot with Brad Sweet following him into fifth. Andy Forsberg took the win over Kalib Henry and Kaleb Montgomery with Carson coming home fourth and Brad Sweet in the fifth position. Carson would add 94 points to his total bringing it to 194 points.
The 24 car field of talent was set with the top eight in accumulated points for the night locked into the first four rows at the start. The added twist is the highest point driver would start eighth out of that group with the second highest point earner starting to his inside. Carson sat atop the event points after the heat races with 194 points followed by James McFadden with 192 points and Kyle Larson in third with 191 points. For the feature, the winner of the race would not only get the race check but also 200 points added to their evening’s point total with each driver behind them getting three less points per position based on their finishing position. A lot of math, but the racing is what counts as the numbers will then take care of themselves.
The teams were finishing up their last minute work as the cars rolled onto the speedway for the 30-lap preliminary feature at the Gold Cup. Carson really likes these smaller tracks that he grew up racing on as they put the driver much more into the speed and ultimately success equation. He would begin wheeling the Meyers Constructors/High Performance Lubricants/Saldana Racing Products #41 from the fourth row with James McFadden flanking him to the inside in the Roth Motorsports #83. Kalib Henry and Shane Golobic would pace the field from the front row followed by Logan Schuchart and Chase Johnson in row two with Brad Sweet and Kyle Larson in row three.
The flagman signaled to the field they would go racing the next time by. When the front row of Henry and Golobic hit the chalk stripe laid down across turn four they were off to the races. The opening laps of these races are always tight, but on these smaller tracks it seems magnified ten-fold. It was fourth starting Chase Johnson blasting into the lead on the opening lap with Henry and Larson in hot pursuit. Carson was working hard aboard the Albaugh #41 from the seventh spot and looking to claw his way around Silver Dollar in search of the gold. He was mired in a multi-car battle for position and got shuffled back to eighth on lap three.
Chase Johnson was showing the way as Kyle Larson was giving Kalib Henry fits trying to get by for the runner-up position. He would finally get by Henry for second on lap 15. Carson was still running in the eight position at the halfway point of the race.
On lap 18, Giovanni Scelzi worked his way by the forty-one putting Macedo back to the ninth spot. Up front, on lap 22, Kyle Larson moved by Chase Johnson into the lead around the racy quarter mile oval. Carson was still battling and not about to give up. There was still laps of racing to go and positions to gain. He got his elbows up and made his way back by Scelzi on lap 24. He still was not done though as he tussled his way up to seventh with 5 laps to go as he quickly turned his attention to tracking down sixth running Chase Johnson. When the flagman displayed the 2 laps to go sign, Carson caught Johnson and raced by into the sixth position.
Kyle Larson would race to the first preliminary night feature win ahead of Shane Golobic, 11th starting Corey Day, Logan Schuchart and Brad Sweet who rounded out the top five. Carson raced home with a sixth place finish followed by Chase Johnson, James McFadden, Giovanni Scelzi and Kalib Henry who completed the top ten.
Carson’s sixth place finish earned him an additional 185 points. That brought his preliminary night total to 379 points, which positioned him tied for third overall in the event point standings with Corey Day, with Day getting the advantage with the higher feature finish, at the end of the first preliminary night of the Gold Cup. He would have to wait patiently for 24 hours to see how things panned out on Friday night point wise, but did his best to position himself and the Albaugh – Your Alternative #41 team in a good position from a point total perspective.
The top five in overall event points following the opening night at the Gold Cup were: (1) Kyle Larson (391 Points); (2) Shane Golobic (386 Points); (3) Corey Day (379 Points); (4) Carson Macedo (379 Points); and, (5) Logan Schuchart (377 Points). With Kyle Larson not being able to compete in the Gold Cup the remainder of the week due to his NASCAR commitments, the top two, Shane Golobic and Corey Day had locked themselves into the Toyota Dash on Saturday night and would be joined by the top two point earners from Friday night’s show. Those would be the only four drivers guaranteed spots heading into Saturday night for the $25,000-to-win finale.
Carson Macedo and the JJR #41 Team Follow the Success Pathway to Earn A Sixth Place Finish During the first Preliminary Night at the Gold Cup Race of Champions! Photo Credit: Nick Coward
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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.