by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
A morning full of rain gave way to plenty of sunshine in Fremont, Ohio Saturday night as the AFCS Sprints wrapped up their weekend at the Fremont Speedway. The rain made for some tricky track conditions later on in the night. A hammer down, cowboy up track greeted the drivers as they got ready for the 30 lap, $4,000 to win feature event.
Zeth Sabo and Brian Smith led the field to the green flag, and it was Smith getting the jump over Sabo, Nate Dussel, and Craig Mintz. Smith was able to put 1.076 seconds on Sabo by the end of the first lap. Sabo’s terrible luck for the weekend continued on lap three of the feature, as his hood laid in turns one and two, bringing out the caution and sending Sabo to the tail.
This bumped Dussel up to second, followed by Mintz, Cole Macedo and Tyler Gunn. They didn’t make it back to the line before the red flag came out, as Chris Andrews tipped over mid-pack. The ambulance had to make a trip to the pits, so they opened up the red flag. The next restart went ok, as Smith maintained his lead. Dussel was fast, though and got a good run down the front stretch at the end of lap four/beginning of lap five and got by Smith for the lead and gapped him by 1.344 seconds as another red flag came out for TJ Michael and Larry Kingseed Jr, who then got involved in some extracurricular activities in the pits.
On the lap six restart, Dussel held serve and by lap nine, had a 1.977 second lead over Smith as Macedo lurked in second. Dussel made his way into lapped traffic with a 2.916 second lead as Macedo got by Smith for second and set his sights on the lead. Dussel’s lead got slashed to 1.029 seconds by lap 13 as he negotiated through traffic. A spin for Mike Keegan at the halfway point would get Dussel out of traffic, but would put Macedo, who has four wins in 410/360 at Fremont in 2022, right on his tail on a track that suits his style.
Dussel got out to a .889 second lead but was back in traffic by lap 19. Dussel bobbled in turns one and two of lap 20, and that’s all Macedo needed to get the lead. With eight laps left, Macedo had a 1.592 second lead, which grew to 2.365 seconds with five to go, 3.184 seconds with two to go, and finally, Macedo took the checkered flag 4.036 seconds ahead of Dussel to claim his sixth 410 win of the year, and extend his AFCS and Fremont Speedway points lead.
Tyler Gunn, Brian Smith, and Byron Reed rounded out the top five.
“I had a really good race car there, and it’s kind of my style; a California, hooked-up Fremont. The last time the track was like this, we won, so I was confident going in. Mike and Steven and all the crew guys did a really good job and got me comfortable after the heat race. It was a very good night,” said the California native.
It’s hard to judge just how hard to push on a cowboy up track, as it can jump up and bite even the most experienced drivers. Macedo seems to have a good understanding on how hard he can push, and when to push to be able to conquer the tricky track conditions:
“On the start I got to fourth, and almost got to third, and I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard. The red came out, and I was talking to Mike and Steven and they asked me how I was, and I said that we were good. Once we kick it into 100%, I think we’ll get by these guys. I just bided my time and bided my time as best as I could because I knew how rough the track was. I didn’t want to make a big move until later in the race; once I got really comfortable with where I needed to be at the right time,” continued Macedo.
“I love it [rain on Saturday’s],” Macedo said with a smile. “I pray to God every Saturday that it would just sprinkle a little bit and get that good water in this place. I’m sure a lot of these guys hated it, I know it’s not that fun to race on, but for some reason, we’re always good. I was happy with it, and hopefully not too many people are on Roger’s [Campbell] butt. It was a good night for me and my team. I really want to thank Ray Brooks for giving us the best equipment possible to come out here and do what we love,” concluded Macedo.