by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
Since his second place run on May 13, Cole Macedo’s best finish at Attica Raceway Park is seventh. There have been two Outlaw and two All Star races in that time frame, but the results weren’t up to Macedo’s standards, and he wasn’t too thrilled about going backwards in the feature on July 22nd. He had held onto the Attica points lead until the 22nd, when Trey Jacobs was able to grab a six point advantage over Macedo by night’s end. Fast forward a week and Macedo was hungry for a win, and that’s what he got himself with the AFCS Sprints when the checkered flag flew.
When the green flag flew for the 30 lap feature, it was Byron Reed and Caleb Griffith at the top of the field. Reed jumped to the bottom of turns one and two to take the early advantage as they raced down the backstretch. Griffith wound up the Jeff Ward #33W on the cushion of turns three and four and powered around the outside of Reed to lead lap one. Griffith then rocketed out to a 1.581 second lead as Cole Macedo got by TJ Michael for the third spot as the yellow came out for Henry Malcuit.
Reed was able to show Griffith a nose on the restart, but Griffith staved the veteran off as Macedo lurked, and made a move on Reed to claim the second spot on lap three. Griffith had a .824 second lead on Macedo on lap five, which increased to 1.169 seconds on lap seven. Clean air was key for Griffith. That lead would be erased as Malcuit came to a stop on the front stretch, necessitating a caution. A huge swing in the points would occur on this caution, as Trey Jacobs came into the work area under yellow. The points leader would eventually take the 3J machine back to the trailer with engine issues, ending his night and potentially his bid to defend his points title.
On the ensuing restart, Macedo slid Griffith for the lead not once, but twice, but Griffith was able to keep Macedo at bay and hang on to the lead. Griffith was then able to gap Macedo by 1.257 seconds, but the yellow would come out once again, this time for Tim Shaffer.
Macedo knew what he had to do on this restart to get the lead. Going into turn one, Griffith slid up the track, sliding and killing some momentum going down the backstretch. Macedo was able to get under Griffith going into turns three and four. The pair were side-by-side as they crossed the line coming to lap 11. Griffith threw a slider going into turns three and four, maybe making some contact with Macedo, but Macedo was able to maintain the lead and gap Griffith by .611 seconds by lap 13. A slight bobble from Griffith, plus clean air in front of Macedo, allowed Macedo to increase his lead to 1.217 seconds at the halfway mark.
“He [Griffith] was really good in clean air. The first restart, I got a really good start and was able to blitz him in one and two and slide him and three and four, but he ended up getting back around me. Then I knew I didn’t commit hard enough on the restart,” Macedo said.
“On the next restart the gameplan was if I got to his rear bumper, throw it in there as hard as I could and get past him before he could drive back around me, and get him in dirty air. He actually put up a really good fight and kept driving back by me in one and two, but would fade up. My car was good enough that he could drive across my nose, I could rotate still and drive off the bottom,” Macedo continued.
Macedo then started clicking off laps, running the low to middle lines in turns one and two, and hitting the cushion in turns three and four, taking a 1.833 second lead into lapped traffic on lap 21. While Macedo started to navigate through traffic, Reed and DJ Foos were all over Grifith for the second spot, and Travis Philo, who started thirteenth, wasn’t far behind either. Both Reed and Foos were able to get by Griffith, who had an ailing machine. Macedo’s lead was now up to 2.857 seconds on lap 25 as the yellow flew as Griffith coasted to a stop.
Macedo knew he had two drivers who desperately wanted to get into the win column in second and third, plus his title combatant Travis Philo in fourth, who was on a mission to the front. This set up a six lap dash to the finish. Macedo nailed his restart, as DJ Foos, wing trunked, was able to get by Reed for second. This allowed Macedo to get a .936 second lead on lap 26, which increased to 1.201 seconds as Macedo was in that all-important clean air. Macedo didn’t face another challenge in the final handful of laps, and got the victory over DJ Foos by 1.450 seconds.
“I was in deep lapped traffic, and was struggling to get by them in one and two. I’d try to get to their right rear in one and two, and get around them in one and two, but they’d drive back underneath me. I was happy to get that restart. I knew if I could nail the bottom of one and two and make decent laps in three and four, I didn’t think anyone would show a nose. If they did, I think I could’ve picked it up a bit and drove back by them. Luckily, I didn’t see anybody and they said I had a good enough lead,” Macedo said.
For Macedo, it’s his second Attica win of the year, eighth 410 win of the year, and ninth win overall. He extended his AFCS points lead and retook the Attica points lead as well with only five races remaining.
“We were really good tonight,” Macedo said. “We’ve been struggling here lately, a lot. He [Steven Linder] did his homework this week, and made the car phenomenal. He couldn’t have came back and hit the sweet spot any better. Thanks to him, and all these crew guys. When your car is that good, it makes your night really easy. We come in, qualify and heat race well, and then drive to the front of the feature.”
“This sport is all about confidence. When you come into a track and you’re not confident– a track you’ve been struggling at, it’s tough to overcome that. I think that this will be a big boost of confidence, not only at this track but the next couple of races coming up. We’re going into tomorrow with good spirits, and hopefully we’ll keep up the efforts and win again,” Macedo concluded.