Five laps remained in Saturday’s AGCO Jackson Nationals powered by Fendt finale when the yellow lights flashed. The caution flag flew, and the stage was set for an epic conclusion with $25,000 on the line at Minnesota’s Jackson Motorplex.
Carson Macedo had led the way since lap 26 of the 35-lap Feature, but Brad Sweet stepped up to present a challenge. The duo traded sliders and crossovers over the final five circuits to bring the crowd to their feet. And when the dust settled on the heavyweight bout, Macedo emerged victorious to claim his second consecutive Jackson Nationals title.
In Victory Lane Macedo rose atop the wing of his Jason Johnson Racing machine as the fans roared. The entire JJR team celebrated wildly after their driver came out on top of a duel with the four-time and reigning World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car champion.
The win moved Macedo up to six for the season, putting him in a three-way tie for the second most this year. The Lemoore, CA native is at 34 victories for his career with The Greatest Show on Dirt, which breaks a tie with Sheldon Haudenschild for 21st on the all-time win list.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for Brad Sweet,” Macedo said. “He’s an unbelievable race car driver, so to duel with him there at the end like that is pretty cool. I’m just super thankful for this Albaugh #41 team. Philip Dietz is unreal. To win this race back-to-back is pretty special. I feel like Phil has an extremely good package, good car here. And Clyde Knipp and Nate Repetz, they’re the hardest workers out here on the tour. They grind it out every day. They do an incredible job, so I’m happy to reward them with a win. Just hats off to this Jason Johnson Racing team.”
Macedo began the main event from the outside of the front row. It was James McFadden – who was attempting to sweep the three nights – taking the early advantage from the pole. As the field navigated the opening laps McFadden extended his lead over Macedo.
McFadden set a torrid pace in the race’s first half. At times when navigating traffic, Macedo found chances to close on the tail tank of the Roth Motorsports #83 but couldn’t find a lane to get around him.
Then on Lap 26, the lane opened.
As McFadden exited Turn 2, he slipped up slightly coming off the corner and slid while Macedo stayed low in the grip and pointed as straight as an arrow. Carrying much momentum down the back straightaway, Macedo dipped under McFadden entering Turn 3 to take command.
“I had a really bad stumbling issue in the center of the corner,” McFadden commented on what might’ve cost him the lead. “And then when I got to lapped cars I couldn’t accelerate off the corner at all.”
After securing the top spot, Macedo quickly pulled ahead and appeared on his way to a commanding triumph when the yellow flag was displayed with five laps remaining for a slowing Ian Madsen.
On the restart Brad Sweet, who was running third, got the top working and blasted around McFadden for second in Turns 1 and 2. Then “The Big Cat” ripped the top in the next set of corners to pull alongside Macedo and nose ahead to lead Lap 31. Macedo countered with a slide job in Turn 1 to swipe the lead back for the next two circuits.
After crossing the finish line with two laps to go, Sweet threw a slider of his own to regain the top spot. Coming to the white flag, Macedo drove from the top of Turn 3 down to the bottom on the exit of Turn 4 to gather speed as the white flag waved. Macedo once again slid Sweet to move ahead, and the 27-year-old sealed the deal by sliding himself in the final set of corners to secure a thrilling victory.
“I was having to really get slowed up in the middle to grab that bottom grip off of (Turn) 4, and I think that’s where Brad was obviously able to sail around me there,” Macedo explained. “By the time I could hear him he was already by me. I was able to kind of squeeze that grip into (Turn) 1 and slide him and then I was in full guess mode. I didn’t really know where to be. I didn’t really know whether I was supposed to be on the top or the bottom. When you’re in that spot, it’s tough to know exactly where you’re supposed to be.”
Sweet’s runner-up result aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 earned him a healthy $10,000 payday. With hindsight, the Grass Valley, CA native found himself wishing he’d have taken a more defensive approach with the lead in the closing laps.
“I just kind of got out-raced there at the end,” Sweet said. “I feel like I could’ve done a better job once I got ahead of him to keep him behind me, but he surprised me with some of the runs he got. I wasn’t expecting him, when I passed him on the top, to make speed back up on me. But this track is wide and flat, so once he got there and this dirty air, even if they get just kind of close to you, you really feel it. I got a little dirty air and got behind him and mounted another charge and got back by him. Taking the white (flag) in the lead I should’ve just really protected the bottom. I didn’t get across the front straightaway enough, and he got back to my inside. He did a better job protecting and moving his car around.”
In the final laps, Donny Schatz surged onto the podium to finish third. The result marked his second top three in three nights at Jackson with the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing team.
“The yellow probably helped us a little bit there,” Schatz said. “Whoever was in front of me, when they went to the bottom you’ve got to go where they’re not. So, we finally got up there and kept a pretty fast pace. I kept trying different things throughout the race to see what my race car was doing to see if I could give my guys some data and feedback that’ll help us get a little bit better. We tried a hundred different things, but nothing seemed to get us going. Still a pretty respectable finish.”
Slipping to fourth late in the going was James McFadden after leading the first 25 laps. He fell just short of history as he was attempting to become the first driver since Danny Lasoski in 2003 to win three consecutive World of Outlaws races in three consecutive nights at the same track. While he couldn’t cement a sweep of the Jackson Nationals, McFadden left feeling encouraged with home turf for his Roth Motorsports team nearing on the horizon.
“I’m just happy with the weekend,” McFadden said. “You can’t be sad about two wins and a fourth. It gives us good momentum leading into the next couple races and then obviously in California where Dennis and Teresa are from and get to watch their car go around their home state. Excited to get there and see what happens.”
Giovanni Scelzi completed the top five.
Spencer Bayston earned the KSE Racing Hard Charger with a drive from 18th to 10th.
James McFadden won the Toyota Racing King of the Hill to earn the pole of the main event.
Lachlan McHugh topped the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars head to North Dakota for two straight nights. First up is the Gerdau presents the 2nd Leg of the Northern Tour at River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND) on Friday, August 25. The next brings the Gerdau presents the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND) on Saturday, August 26. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action live on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo; 2. 49-Brad Sweet; 3. 15-Donny Schatz; 4. 83-James McFadden; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 7. 1T-Tanner Holmes; 8. 24-Rico Abreu; 9. 39M-Justin Sanders; 10. 5-Spencer Bayston; 11. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 12. 9-Kasey Kahne; 13. 2-David Gravel; 14. 11-Cory Eliason; 15. 10-Scott Bogucki; 16. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 17. 2KS-Chase Randall; 18. 7S-Robbie Price; 19. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 20. (DNF) 7-Ian Madsen; 21. (DNF) 25-Lachlan McHugh; 22. (DNF) 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 23. (DNF) 22K-Kaleb Johnson; 24. (DNF) 16-Brooke Tatnell