Carson Macedo Holds Off Gravel to Top World of Outlaws Kennedale Debut

There’s no denying 2024 didn’t begin the way Carson Macedo and Jason Johnson Racing had hoped it would.

The championship caliber crew stumbled out of the gate with four straight finishes of 12th or worse. But on Saturday night at Kennedale Speedway Park, the pairing put the exclamation mark on a recent stretch that’s made them forget all about the subpar start.

The driver of the Albaugh #41 started on the pole of the Series debut at Kennedale, stayed out front, and held off a charging David Gravel on the final lap for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car win. With finishes of third, second, eighth, and first in the last four races, the rough beginning to the season feels long gone.

“What a great job by this JJR race team,” Macedo said. “Philip Dietz just did an incredible job, communicated well and made really good adjustments all night. I feel like my car was exceptional, laying down a good lap (in Qualifying) and just kind of took it from there. Adam Zimmerman and Robby McQuinn, they worked extremely hard and did a great job. We’re all gelling together, and the JJR team is coming together really nice.”

The victory marked Macedo’s 36th with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Kennedale became the 24th different track where Macedo has visited Victory Lane and third in the state of Texas. He’s also now topped the two most recent Series debuts at a new track after claiming the inaugural Ogilvie Raceway visit last June. Jason Johnson Racing is now up to 60 total World of Outlaws wins with Macedo supplying half of them.

Macedo also continued the streak of different winners to begin the year and tied the record. We’re up to eight different names to claim checkered flags to start the season, matching the mark established in 2015.

The 35-lap race was brought to green by Macedo with Bill Balog to his outside. Macedo roared ahead when the green lights flashed and led the first lap.

As the field navigated the opening circuits, Balog kept Macedo within striking distance with traffic ahead. The “North Pole Nightmare” closed in as lapped cars began to be a factor. Disaster nearly struck Macedo on the eighth lap when the lapped car of Jason Martin slowed ahead of him on the back straightaway. Macedo clipped Martin’s right rear tire, but not only did he save the car, he managed to hold the lead.

A lap after Macedo’s close call Sheldon Haudenschild muscled by Balog for the second spot and put Macedo in the crosshairs. Macedo managed to pad his advantage by slicing through a few slower cars. But at the halfway point of the main event Haudenschild began to close back in. Right when it looked like a battle for the lead was shaping up, heartbreak hit Haudenschild as a mechanical failure caused him to slow on the front straightaway and ended his night.

Haudenschild’s misfortune handed the runner-up spot to Aaron Reutzel for the ensuing restart. Macedo pulled ahead once again when the green flag resumed the action.

The Lemoore, CA driver looked to be cruising toward a comfortable victory as the race dipped inside 10 laps remaining. But traffic again became a factor and set up an exciting finish. Lapped cars slowed Macedo allowing both Reutzel and David Gravel to reel him in. Reutzel began to make the top of the racetrack work. Macedo stuck with the bottom, which hadn’t failed him to that point, but Reutzel chipped away at the lead. The cushion was becoming the preferred line.

The margin between Macedo and Reutzel was a mere tenth of a second when the white flag flew. But David Gravel had other plans about who might steal the win. A lapped car held Reutzel up on the final lap in Turns 1 and 2. Gravel shoved his nose to Reutzel’s inside and secured the spot heading down the back straightaway.

In the final set of corners Gravel ripped the cushion with no fear but it was too little, too late as Macedo held on and crossed the finish line with only a couple car lengths between himself and the Huset’s Speedway #2.

“I was getting nervous,” Macedo admitted. “I just kept telling myself, ‘Be patient. Don’t get excited.’ The bottom was really good. When I hit it right, it was excellent, but it was really easy to miss especially off of (Turn) 4. I think that’s what kind of started happening there with Bill (Rose). I’d get behind him there into (Turn) 3 and just lose my nose just enough and kind of skate out and didn’t have quite enough squirt to get by him. I could see David on the big screen. I could see Aaron kind of pacing him. I was just watching it every lap hoping I could squeak by Bill and was thankful when I finally did. I looked over and saw I had a decent amount of space.”

Gravel’s runner-up finish marked his third podium of the season and first since winning night two of DIRTcar Nationals in February. The result coupled with Giovanni Scelzi’s 10th place run put Gravel back into a tie for the points lead. The Watertown, CT native felt that one extra lap might’ve led him to Victory Lane.

“The car came alive the last 10 (laps), and I was really able to drive the car once we got that fuel burnt off,” Gravel said. “I lost a couple spots on those early starts. I didn’t want that to happen, but I knew (Turns) 3 and 4 were getting slick and technical. I figured the guys in front of me I could probably pick off there towards the end. I was probably going to run third there, and then Aaron got stuck behind a lapped car. The top was coming in in (Turns) 3 and 4, and Carson had no idea. It just sucks it’s not a 36-lap race.”

Reutzel completed the podium in the Ridge & Sons Racing #87. The Clute, TX native was definitely hungry for a home state World of Outlaws win, but overall he came away satisfied with the speed he and the team displayed.

“We had a shot. We had a phenomenal car that came in really good at the end there when I found the top and Carson didn’t know it was there yet,” Reutzel said. “It feels good to be in contention to win. It’s just a huge team effort.”

Bill Balog and Brent Marks completed the top five.

Sam Hafertepe Jr. grabbed the KSE Racing Hard Charger with a 24th to 11th run.

Carson Macedo grabbed Simpson Quick Time honors.

NOS Energy Drink Heats One, Three, and Four belonged to Bill Rose, Carson Macedo, and Ryan Timms. Milton Hershey Heat Two went to Brent Marks.

Koty Adams won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars make their debut at Thunderbird Speedway (Muskogee, OK) on Friday, March 29 before a stop at 81 Speedway (Wichita, KS) on Saturday, March 30. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.


NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 41-Carson Macedo[1]; 2. 2-David Gravel[4]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel[5]; 4. 17B-Bill Balog[2]; 5. 19-Brent Marks[6]; 6. 5T-Ryan Timms[7]; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart[14]; 8. 83-Michael Kofoid[18]; 9. 15-Donny Schatz[9]; 10. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[20]; 11. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[24]; 12. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[23]; 13. 73-Scotty Thiel[11]; 14. 1-Brenham Crouch[16]; 15. 6-Bill Rose[8]; 16. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[15]; 17. 70-Kraig Kinser[13]; 18. 7S-Landon Crawley[22]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[3]; 20. 45X-Jace Park[12]; 21. 88-Austin McCarl[10]; 22. 36-Jason Martin[17]; 23. 6A-Koty Adams[21]; 24. 2B-Brett Becker[19]

DIRTcar Series PR