LEARNING RACE BY RACE: Carson Macedo excelling in rookie year with Kyle Larson Racing

Six races into the 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season Carson Macedo found himself in Victory Lane for the first time as a full-time rookie at Silver Dollar Speedway – his second win overall.

Six months later, before the Series’ return to the quarter-mile speedway on Sept. 6-7, Macedo and his Kyle Larson Racing team have amassed two more victories and currently sit sixth in the championship point standings.

It’s the Lemoore. Calif.-native’s first year with KLR and his crew chief Joe Gaerte’s first time back on the World of Outlaws tour full-time in several years.

“I think it’s been up and down,” Macedo said about his rookie year. “I think we had a real strong start to the year, which I somewhat expected because we were running through California at the beginning of the year, which is where I’m from and probably where I ran the majority of my career, at least starting out. It’s easy to be up and down. You go to so many new tracks so often.”

Some of those tracks have been tough, while others he’s found speed right – including Black Hills Speedway where he won in his first appearance there. Having Gaerte, who had previously raced full-time with the Series and who he had been working with since 2016, come to KLR with him as his crew chief has been a hug advantage, Macedo said.

Mark Coffman photo

When Macedo was hired by Kyle Larson and Paul Silva, the team’s general manager, to drive the No. 2 car for the 2019 season, Macedo said they wanted Gaerte to be his crew chief as much as he did.

“He (Gaerte) raced the World of Outlaws tour for a long time,” Macedo said. “He got off the road and he’s built engines. He’s literally been through every aspect of the sport. And I’ve been able to work with him the past two years prior to this deal. We’ve ran huge seasons, over 50 races. I think that was a big deal right off the bat. It would be hard to come out here with a new crew chief you’ve never worked with, new cars. I mean we already had a lot of new stuff thrown at us. I think he’ll be with me for a long time.

“This deal is a long-term deal. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but KLR. I just hope that we can stay together for a long time and just build something together. Because that’s the biggest thing out here. I mean the guys you see doing really well out here, they’ve built something. The 15 car, Donny has built that relationship with his crew guys. They’ve been together for so long and won a lot of championships. I just think that keeping that core together and building something is the biggest thing out here. Very rarely do you see short-term results. I just hope that me and Joe can stay together and keep building. With hard work on my end and obviously on his part, I think we could be anywhere we want to be someday.”

When Macedo and Gaerte first stared working together in 2016, Gaerte said they “hit it off.” Despite their age difference, the two gelled and found speed right away. They were in sync.

Last year, driving Gaerte’s car, Macedo finished second in points with the All Star Circuit of Champions Series, accumulating five wins.

“I can kind of read what he needs and make it work,” Gaerte said. “I know what he’s going to say before he says it. It’s been good that way. I mean, we miss it, obviously. Some of these tracks neither one of us have seen before. Some of them he’s seen. Some of them I’ve seen. We struggle like anybody, but I think if we can be in the top-10 about every night, I think that’s pretty good for a first-year team.”

The duo has put together 34 top-10 finishes in 54 starts, so far.

One of the biggest differences between running the All Star tour and the World of Outlaws tour is the World of Outlaws’ schedule is more than double the length. Getting use to the longer season and extra traveling has been an adjustment for Macedo and Gaerte, but both have also adapted without issue.

“We’ve just been plugging along,” Gaerte said. “It’s a little bit for me to get use to going back on the road because I hadn’t been on the road in a long time. You get used to it. Some nights it gets grueling when you’ve been on these long trips. It’s been cool. You just know that’s what’s you’re going to do so you deal with it.”

David Campbell photo

For Macedo, the tour has been “awesome.” It’s been his goal and all he’s ever wanted to do, he said.

“I’m loving it, man,” Macedo said. “I think it is tough. There’re times where you can get worn down mentally because you race so many consecutive races in a row. You can get beat down and you can’t get out of that and back out of that hole. The grueling schedule, I mean, for the most part, we just get to race a lot. And we get to race all over the country. So, to me it’s awesome. I don’t mind a little bit of driving, a little bit of travelling or stay in hotels or anything like that. It probably bothers me less than it would other people, maybe. I love it. It’s been great. I’m looking to doing it for years to come.”

The biggest challenge this year, so far, has been Williams Grove Speedway, Macedo said. With the expectation of his win at Lincoln Speedway driving for Gaerte, Macedo said he’s struggled at Pennsylvania tracks. Especially Williams Grove.

In the first PA swing of the season in May, Macedo finished 19th at Lincoln Speedway and then 20th and 23rd at Williams Grove Speedway. However, he showed that he can learn and improve when the Series returned to Williams Grove in July – finishing 13th and 10th respectively.

“Keeping your mindset good is probably the biggest thing,” Macedo said. “Not letting yourself get down, because it’s easy to let yourself get down. These guys are the best in the World. The World of Outlaws is full of guys that do this professionally. They’re at this level for a reason. It’s easy to qualify bad and have a bad night and get down, but you just have to keep believing in yourself. I think that’s the biggest challenge out here. A lot of guys get down and get frustrated and you just can’t let yourself do that.”

He’s now heading to the second California swing of the season, starting with two races at Silver Dollar Speedway – where he has two World of Outlaws wins at. Following the races in Chico, the Series on Sept. 11 will be at Placerville Speedway, on Sept. 13 will be at the Stockton Dirt Track – where Macedo finished seventh at in March – and on Sept. 14 will be at Calistoga Speedway.

It’s a swing of races Macedo is excited to get to and try to pick up another win, or two, and gain points.

“Kyle Larson gives us a really good package,” Macedo said. “We have really good race cars. I think our team is really strong.

“For the most part, I feel like our results have been pretty good at times and at times we’ve struggled. But the good part is, being out here the first year, we get to go to a lot of new places, next year that we’ll have some more notes for and have a little bit better of an idea how to be better at places we’ve been to. The tracks we’re good at, we can hopefully stay consistent at and the tracks we need to get better at I think we have a good idea of how to do that. That’s the most important thing.”

You can see Macedo go for another win at Silver Dollar Speedway this weekend during the Gold Cup Race of Champions doubleheader at the Chico, Calif. track. Get tickets and more information.

As always, if you can’t make it to the race, you can watch all of the action LIVE on DIRTVision.com.

West Coast swing schedule:
9/6 – 9/7: Silver Dollar Speedway (Tickets)
9/11: Placerville Speedway (Tickets)
9/13: Stockton Dirt Track (Tickets)
9/14: Calistoga Speedway (Tickets)

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