Carson Macedo wishes he had a better start to the 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season than his two top-10 finishes but knows it’s still part of the plan.
After back-to-back third-place finishes in Series points, Macedo and his Jason Johnson Racing team are aiming for more consistency in 2023 as they chase their first World of Outlaws championship – continuing at Volusia Speedway Park, March 5-6.
“I think we proved that we can win races,” Macedo said. “[JJR and I] won 11 races our first year on the road in 2021. And then last year we won 11 races. I feel like that is a really solid World of Outlaws season. Both years we finished third in points. But you know, the ultimate goal on the World of Outlaws tour is to win the championship. For me, I think when I look back at my 2022 season, what held me back from that is DNFs.
“Basically, we had three main failures last year – being light at [Williams Grove Speedway], we wrecked at Cedar Lake (Speedway) and got into a wreck at Williams Grove. Those races ultimately are the ones you can’t look back on and be like, ‘Oh, we had this DNF, or this or that.’ It has to be a perfect season to beat Brad (Sweet), I think, and David (Gravel) too. Just finishing consistent, finishing in the top five, top 10, every night is more important than winning the most races and I think Brad proved that last year.”
Installing that mentality is not as easy as flipping a switch in his mind, though.
“It’s such a hard thing to do,” he said. “At the end of the day, as race car drivers, we’re programed to win races. It’s really hard to tell yourself some nights that third or fifth is good enough. It’s something that I really struggle with and try every day to get better at. I feel like you see Brad do it all the time. I feel like you saw Donny (Schatz, the 10-time Series champion) do it quite a bit over the years when he was winning championships. They’ll take those fourths and fifths and sixths and sevenths, and bad nights they make into a good night or a respectable night. I just think that’s what it is all about.”
Sweet clinched his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws title in 2022 with five wins and a 48-point lead over Gravel. Currently, he’s started the season with a 19th-place finish – the first time he finished outside the top-16, while still running, since 2021 – and a sixth. While only two races in, Macedo sits ahead of Sweet in points – fifth versus Sweet’s 10th-place standing.
Macedo is also still in the hunt for the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator title, sitting 18 points behind Gravel, who swept the two opening World of Outlaws events. After rain delayed the remainder of the DIRTcar Nationals finale, the Toyota Dash and $16,000-to-win Feature will run in the afternoon on Sunday, March 5, before the start of the Low-E Insulation Spring Showdown. Before the rain came, Macedo earned his 20th Quick Time Award and finished second in the CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat #1, locking him in the Toyota Dash.
“I’m looking forward to going back down [to Volusia] and hopefully the track being really consistent for all three Feature races,” Macedo said. “For my program, for (team co-owner and crew chief) Philip Dietz and JJR, that would suit us better. But if you ask [Gravel and the Big Game Motorsports team], which won both events and was really fast, they might want it to be hammer down. It just depends.”
While winning will be the main goal each night, Macedo won’t forget a decent finish is still part of the year-long plan.
“The Outlaw championship thing, of course it’s a dream of mine,” Macedo said. “I feel like I see so many teams and drivers put so much pressure on themselves to win that Outlaw championship that they kind of psych themselves out. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on JJR either. I think the goal for myself, and Philip, is to just be the best team out there and the fastest race team on average. And I do feel like we are very close in that aspect.”
For tickets to the March 5-6 events at Volusia Speedway Park, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.