FAIRBURY — A year ago, California driver Carson Macedo was part of the renowned Keith Kunz Motorsports midget racing team and the Toyota Racing Development program.
If his performance at Central Illinois dirt tracks this season is any indication, Macedo's move into the faster and more powerful winged-sprint car ranks has been relatively seamless.
On Saturday night, Macedo shattered the all-time track qualifying record at Fairbury's American Legion Speedway before running away to a heat race win. He then capped the evening by completing the trifecta with a convincing win in the 30-lap A-Main, co-sanctioned by MOWA and the IRA sprint car series.
Macedo conquered the fearsome Fairbury cushion in the featured event to outrun perennial IRA champ Bill Balog of Hartland, Wis.
"It was big and treacherous," said Macedo of the track's ledge, built by dirt and rubber tossed against the outside retaining wall. "You just have to be patient and be careful. One time I got over it and it almost cost me. I knew from then on I had to be careful and hit my marks."
Prior to his near catastrophic run-in with the top-side marbles, Macedo had taken the lead from early pacesetter Jeremy Schultz with a slick, lap 11 slide-job on the backstretch.
"Early on, I kind of used the bottom of the track to get from fifth to second," Macedo said. "Once I got to second, the bottom started to wear out and I went to the top. Schultz was running through the middle and I knew if I could get to the top I could get by him. I came off of (turn) two, had a big run and slid him."
Macedo led the rest of the way, powered to the win with a motor built by his car owner, Joe Gaerte, who's teamed with Tim and Cindy Norman to put a stout car in the hands of a capable driver.
The team also grabbed the sprint car feature a night earlier at Lincoln Speedway, their second win at the Logan County Fairgrounds track in a little over a month. The first came in an All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series event in June.
Balog came from ninth place on the starting grid to claim the runner-up spot.
"We weren't real good at the start, but were able to get going there at the end and able to pass some cars," Balog said.
Scott Thiel of Sheboygan, Wis., finished third after earlier being in position to pass Macedo when the eventual winner got a bit sideways in his only hiccup of the night.
"We were a little too loose (in the setup) and I was just really trying to hold on," said Thiel. "I thought we had a good car, capable of winning. But with the wing too far back, we lost a little bit of front end grip and when we got into traffic it was hard for me to turn down on guys."
Paul Neinheiser finished fourth with Schultz fading to fifth at the close.
Lincoln's Brett Tripplett was the highest finishing Central Illinois driver, ending the night in eighth.
While Macedo set the all-time track qualifying standard with a lap of 11.219 seconds, Kody Kinser — a member of sprint car racing's "first family" — led the way among the second group of qualifiers before finishing ninth in the main event.
UMP weekly series dirt late models and modifieds were also on the Fairbury card.
Frankie Heckenast prevailed over cousin Mike "Opie" Spatola in an intense battle for the late model checkers.
Heckenast led the opening 17 laps before Spatola was able to get past him in some crowded lapped traffic with 12 circuits remaining.
Spatola drifted high between turns one and two on the final lap, however, opening the door for Heckenast to get past him for the victory.
Daniel Flessner finished third with Fairbury's McKay Wenger and Mike Mataragas of DeKalb rounding out the top-five.
Plainfield's Mike McKinney won the modified featured event.