An Australian team, a New Zealand chassis and an American driver.
Those three ingredients combined to make up the perfect formula for Carson Macedo’s first career USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature victory on Tuesday night at California’s Merced Speedway.
Macedo had run a full season of USAC National Midgets in 2016 where he captured Rookie of the Year honors. That same season, the Lemoore, Calif. native collected a USAC Midwest Regional Midget title as well.
For this year’s leading feature winner on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car tour, one thing that had long eluded him was a USAC National Midget feature win.
It finally all came to fruition in his 37th career USAC National Midget start on Tuesday as he powered from his fifth starting position to the lead by lap 11 before closing out an inaugural series victory in his Dyson Motorsport/Complete Parts & Equipment – Tarlton & Son – Empire/King/Speedway Toyota.
“I’ve won World of Outlaw races, All Star races and things like that, but I’d never won a USAC National Midget race. I told (car owner) Sean Dyson last year when we raced together that I’d love to win one of these. It’s something I’ve really wanted to cross off my bucket list.”
Macedo became the third first-time feature winner this season, joining Jacob Denney and Mitchel Moles in that category.
At the start of November’s California swing, good fortune was a mythical ghost for Macedo, who was involved in a crash during the prelims which forced him to miss the feature start one week ago at Bakersfield Speedway, followed by progressively improved runs of 22nd, 10th and 4th across three nights at Placerville, a marked improvement over the eight-day span.
“Sean has taken to this midget deal really quick,” Macedo explained. “He’s my crew chief in this deal. Justin (Insley) is working on Spencer (Bayston)’s car. They’re bouncing ideas off each other and just doing an incredible job. I think the driver just needed to get a little better. I run winged sprint cars all year, so when I get in these things, I tend to drive them too straight or make mistakes that maybe other guys wouldn’t make, like Buddy (Kofoid) who runs these night-in, night-out and does an extremely good job.”
The victory came on a night in which Macedo was practically perfect come feature time. Just prior to the midget main, Macedo notched a hard-fought win with the Kings of Thunder Winged 360 Sprint Cars.
While Macedo began his 30-lap midget journey from the inside of the third row, outside front row starter and USAC Western States Midget regular Jake Andreotti made hay on the outside to nip pole sitter Chance Crum at the line by mere fee at the conclusion of both laps one and two.
Crum took over the race leader baton from Andreotti on lap three as he slid up and occupied Andreotti’s groove on the top line between turns one and two. During what was a frenzied opening handful of laps, Grant then churned past Andreotti for second on the bottom of turn two on lap four, then repeated the same exact maneuver a single lap later to snare the lead away from Crum.
Over, under, sideways, down. Macedo made it all work on a lap nine restart as he blitzed around the outside of Andreotti for fourth at the exit of turn four, then darted between the two in the first and second turns to swipe second from Crum. Then, like a wind-up toy, Macedo hit the high side, steadily building up his momentum for a lap-and-a-half before steamrolling a path around the outside of Grant to put a lock on the race lead on the 11th lap.
As Macedo began to strengthen his command by slipping out to a near full-straightaway lead, Buddy Kofoid began to exert his force after overcoming a 14th place starting position in the 23-car field. First, Kofoid split the difference between Crum and Andreotti in turn three to travel from fifth to third in one fell swoop at the halfway point.
Kofoid tried his initial lap 22 slider on Grant in turns one and two to no avail as Grant crossed him over to deny the action with his own reaction. Immediately, Kofoid reloaded, drove it in deep into turn three and secured the position by the time the two were rounding turn four and headed for home.
Macedo seemingly had the race in the bag after taking the white flag while possessing a nearly insurmountable 2.494 second advantage over Kofoid. However, Daison Pursley (12th) came to a stop on the far side of the turn two banking to bring out the caution, thus bunching up the field for a green-white-checkered restart with Kofoid directly on the rear bumper of Macedo in nitty-gritty time.
“I didn’t want to see that caution come out,” Macedo acknowledged. “I looked up (at the scoreboard) and saw the 67 was behind me. I knew that I was going to have to get a good restart and I knew he’d probably throw a flyer. If it was me and I’m running second, I’d probably do the same. I had in mind what he’d do, but I was able to get a pretty good run off four and get down across turn one pretty good and I figured, after that, it’d be tougher to get me.”
Macedo went relatively unharassed over the final couple of trips around the 1/4-mile dirt oval and was able to stifle any bid to steal away his long-coveted first USAC National Midget win by a 1.123 second margin over Kofoid, Grant, Crum and Logan Seavey.
Andreotti initially finished a career-best third, but his car failed post-race technical inspection and he was deemed “disqualified” for the event.
Once Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) fired off the feature, the 2022 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship was officially his, clinching his second consecutive title with two races remaining after delivering one of his most impressive drives of the year with a 14th to 2nd place bolt for his seventh straight podium finish with the series in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I got to third really quickly and felt extremely good, but I didn’t expect to get up there that fast,” Kofoid admitted. “I could go wherever I wanted, and I could make so much speed more center-off. Once the track started to take rubber, I knew we had an SP2 (tire compound) on, so once I got up third, I sort of pedaled back, then caught Justin and got by him. I could see Carson and was staying with him, but I pedaled back because I didn’t know how much we had left and could start to feel it go away, so I tried to tighten my car up a little bit. I got in the front stretch wall by accident, but I think we lost some tire just trying to come to the front and just didn’t have a lot left.”
Last year’s Merced Speedway opening night USAC National Midget winner Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) led six laps and wound up as the final member of the night’s podium after the disqualification of Andreotti. It marked Grant’s second straight third-place result after a similar finish in his most recent outing at Placerville’s Hangtown 100 last Saturday night in his RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
According to a Facebook report posted by his father late Tuesday night, after his back straightaway incident and flip during the first heat race, Blake Bower (Brentwood, Calif.) suffered a broken left arm and a broken left kneecap.