By MIKE MALLETT
KNOXVILLE, IA – It looked like the second chapter of Carson Macedo’s storybook was going to be written on Saturday night as part of the 28th Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals at the Knoxville Raceway. Macedo had taken the lead and was driving away from the field, but as the old saying goes, it’s never over until it’s over.
With Macedo blasting the cushion, Terry McCarl had an intense battle working with fellow Knoxville regular Brian Brown. That battle led to McCarl finding the rubber on the bottom of the race track which allowed him to run down Macedo quickly in the closing laps. McCarl drove by Macedo for the lead on lap 23 and never looked while on his way to a $15,000 check and a record tying fifth Knoxville 360 Nationals triumph. He is now tied with Shane Stewart for the most wins all-time in the event.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’ve been coming here since I was four-years-old and I’m into the history of Sprint Car racing,” stated McCarl after his record tying win. “Fortunately, I live close to the most historic track in the world. I’ve seen a lot of great drivers race here in person. This place, the history of it means a lot to me. So track records mean a lot to me and feature wins mean a lot to me. Tying Shane with the most wins means a lot to me because that’s history.”
McCarl started on the inside of the second row with his family owned No. 24. He battled hard early with pole-sitter Joey Saldana. Eventually he was able to use a slide job to take lead on lap five. From there he held off all challengers until Macedo blasted by him in turns one and two. At that point McCarl thought it was all over.
“When he (Macedo) slid me I thought it was Joey,” mentioned McCarl. “I thought, ‘man, Carson is hauling the mail. He is getting off.’ Obviously his driving style fits the way they set that car up. Again, I thought right there that if I was going to get beat by the 41 that is pretty cool, but you never give up.”
McCarl eventually lost second to Brian Brown as well, but that proved to be the difference maker in the race. As they fought tooth and nail for position McCarl found the line he needed to get back to the front. He kept searching until something worked.
“At that point you’re in third, you got nothing to lose,” cited McCarl. “You come here for the trophy and the big money. I had nothing to lose. These guys, it wasn’t their fault they didn’t screw up or anything. They had to run a line. Carson had to run the line he was running. At that point I was able to move around to find something and we did. When I felt it I wanted Brian to go one high one more lap. Then we caught Carson and he was passing some lapped cars. I knew there was no way he was going to change lanes right there.”
Macedo didn’t which played into McCarl’s hands. He was able to rocket by Macedo in turns three and four to take the lead. He easily led the final two laps to take the win.
“We just got lucky,” stated McCarl. “We were in the right place at the right time. I didn’t think it when these two drove by me. I thought we were in deep trouble, but it just worked out for us.”
McCarl needed it to work out as it’s been a tough 2018 season he and the team. He had a hard crash early in the season that knocked him unconscious and another flip recently. As a result of the crashes he was forced two weld two different chassis’ together to make one whole car. Needless to say, the win turned around what has been a dreadful year for McCarl.
“I’ve been hurt a lot,” he said. “I’ve broken a lot of bones and I’ve been able to come back from it pretty quick. I can overcome the pain and tough it out. This is the first time I’ve ever been knocked out with a head injury. It was hard on me mentally because I think I’m pretty tough and I’ll overcome and do what I have to do to support my family. I wasn’t able to do that. I couldn’t tough it out, I had to wait it out. That’s never happened to me before.”
Coming into the 360 Nationals it was definitely a year filled with downs, but now, at least for one night, he gets to finally enjoy the things from other side leaving the track on the highest of highs.