Knoxville Nationals is an ecstasy for many. Even saying the two words can shine a light of happiness in the darkest times for drivers and fans.

But for Carson Macedo, there was an eerie feeling.

The last time he was at Knoxville Raceway, on June 10, an unforgettable crash, that saw drivers and safety crews rushing to his safety, sent him to the hospital for a short overnight stay.

He suffered broken ribs and minor burns but didn’t let that stop him from getting back behind the wheel of the Jason Johnson Racing #41 the next week, though. It was tough. It was uncomfortable. But Macedo was determined to not let the injuries win.

Instead, he won. Macedo scored wins at Wilmot Raceway and at Eldora Speedway with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series the following month.

Then, came the trip back to Knoxville, IA.

“It was just a weird deal for me,” Macedo said. “It was the first time I had to dig deep and fight back and just feel uncomfortable for a few weeks in a race car. Struggle to get in and out of the thing and everything else. My ribs being broke probably bothered me the most. It was a bit of an eerie feeling coming back [to Knoxville] but I wanted to come back. I wanted to come back on that horse and make sure I did a good job for my race team.”

In his return, the team came up with an idea that, at first, was more tongue-and-cheek, but evolved into a greater meaning.

Carson Macedo wins at Thursday night prelim at Knoxville

After having a fire during the June crash, the team had a flames livery designed for their special Knoxville Nationals scheme. Not only does it make light of the situation, it is meant to honor the safety workers and officials that helped Macedo during the incident.

“We were like, screw it, we were on fire the last time we were here, so let’s do a flame car, it would be kind of like a joke, but then we were like, ‘Well, it can be a tribute to the safety team,’ and I was like, ‘man, that’s a great idea. It’s an awesome way to do it and to be thankful for them guys.’

“I’m happy my wrecked happened [at Knoxville] because these guys are the best in the business, one of the best in the business at the fire and safety crew side thing and all safety of the racetrack.”

Along with being a fun way to make light of the situation and pay tribute to the workers, the paint scheme was also a step in helping push Macedo past the eerie feeling of coming back to Knoxville.

“Everything in life, everyone gets hit hard, knocked down, and how you respond after that is what separates most from others,” Macedo said. “I try to do the best at owning what the sport is. If we weren’t out here taking any risks, it wouldn’t be fun to watch. It’s the truth. I enjoy Sprint Car racing for the raw sport that it is. I enjoy Sprint Car racing because we go to the edge and push it to the limits. I just try to have fun every time I’m out on the racetrack.

“I think making a little bit of light of a situation helps you get over it and get past that.”

Another thing that helped, parking the flame car in Victory Lane Thursday night at Knoxville. He won the second preliminary Feature of the week and locked himself into Saturday’s main event where he finished fifth – his career best Knoxville Nationals finish.

The eerie feeling was gone, replaced by the same ecstasy shared by all.

“It feels good to feel good again,” Macedo said.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series moves on to another crown jewel event by running the AGCO Jackson Nationals at Jackson Motorplex, Aug. 17-19. For tickets, CLICK HERE. If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.