by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
It was bound to happen; inevitable. It’s hard to keep a driver like DJ Foos and a team like the Burmeister Racing Team out of victory lane for a whole year. They’ve been oh-so-close this season, and have had great runs, including top three finishes in three of the last four Attica features. Now, you give the man pole position, and you may have to pry the win out of Foos’ hands. That’s what Cole Macedo, Emerson Axsom, Chris Andrews, and Travis Philo set out to do Friday night as the AFCS wrapped up the 2022 season at Attica Raceway Park.
The stage was set for one final 30 lap battle for the 2022 season. DJ Foos and Chris Andrews shared the front row as the field took the green flag. Foos immediately jumped to the high-side on the start as Emerson Axsom stole second from Chris Andrews, but the yellow came out before the first lap was complete for debris on the front stretch.
Take two: same story. Foos jumped up high and powered around the top of turns one and two as Axsom once again made his way by Andrews. After completing three laps, Foos’ lead was already up to 2.501 seconds, and Foos put another half second on Axsom by lap five. The Burmeister machine was loving the clean air, but would start to dabble in lapped traffic by lap seven, and the lead started to shrink. Axsom and now Cole Macedo, had gained a second on Foos as he negotiated lapped traffic. With ten laps complete, the lead was down to 1.499 seconds for Foos. Help came for Foos in the form of a lap 11 caution.
“Starting on the pole is kind of a catch-22. You get out in the lead, set a certain pace, and feel like a sitting duck,” said Foos. “We had one good run, and the first 11 laps I felt like I got through traffic good. Then we had a restart and I got back to traffic and got complacent a little bit. I was afraid to move off the top; I thought that’s where I had to be.”
It put Axsom and Macedo on his tail tank, but also gave Foos clean air. On the restart, Axsom showed a nose to Foos briefly, but Foos was able to rocket away out of turn two. Clean air once again helped Foos put 2.007 seconds on Axsom by the halfway point.
Lapped traffic became the name of the game by lap 20. The two second lead for Foos was down to 1.374 seconds as Axsom brought Macedo with him. On lap 22, the lead was cut to under a second; .669 seconds to be exact. Foos would get a lapped car between himself and Axsom and Macedo to stretch the lead a couple tenths of a second, only to have Axsom and Macedo close in more on the next lap. Macedo got by Axsom for second on lap 23, and then the chase was on.
Foos’ lead was cut down to .316 seconds as lap 28 was completed. That’s when Macedo made his move for the lead and the win. Macedo powered by Foos, but Foos fought right back, and hung on to the lead. Macedo was getting ready to set Foos up on the final lap, but right as he was going to strike, the yellow flag flew.
“Cole Macedo stuck his nose under me in one and two, so I knew it was time to get going,” said Foos.
Foos would have the lead and a clean track as the green and white flags waved together. Foos was perfect on the restart, and was able to get his first 410 win of the 2022 season. Travis Philo slid Macedo on the restart and stole second, but Macedo came away as Attica’s 2022 410 champion when all was said and done.
“I’ve never talked to myself so much in one race,” Foos said. “I hadn’t been in this position all year and didn’t want to screw up or make the wrong decision. I felt like what I was doing was the right thing. I feel like Attica is kind of a track position kind of race track this year. This was my third time I started on the front row, it was time to get the job done.”
“It’s a huge relief [winning], I was starting to question myself, I was having to listen to motivational speeches like ‘You still got this,’” Foos said with a laugh. I know my guys are working hard on the car to be better. Doug Berryman at Berryman Racing Shocks has been putting in a lot of work for me and my team, and it finally paid off.”
One of the goals Ray Brooks Racing and Cole Macedo set for the 2022 season was to win the Attica Raceway Park 410 championship, something they accomplished Friday night. Macedo just had to finish 19th or better in the feature to claim his first track title. Macedo may have crossed the line third, but he also came away a winner when the night was over.
“These guys on this team, this is what they wanted to do this year,” Macedo said about winning a championship. “To win a championship fo Ray [Brooks], which I think is pretty awesome, Ray Brooks being a second-year car owner. Like Michael [Linder] just told me, next year, every time this car gets mentioned or I get mentioned, we’ll be mentioned as the Attica Raceway Park track champions.”
Racing for points is something Macedo admitted wasn’t his forte, but also knew it would help him take the next step in his career: “I’ve always not wanted to think about points, not want to race for points, but I’m glad we did it and glad it paid off and we got the job done. Racing for points only sucks when you don’t win the championship.”
“It’s definitely tough for a driver like me, in my position, trying to get to the next level. Racing the same track every week kind of gets old. I don’t really like racing for points, I’ll be honest. I don’t feel like my driving style fits that category. I’m glad we could get it done. It’s a hard deal to win a championship, to come in every night, not have a DNF, and put your best laps together every night because one spot could decide a championship.”
Macedo now gets to add his name to the likes of Mark Keegan, Byron Reed, Craig Mintz and more as an Attica Raceway Park track champion.
“I know that in the bigger picture, it’ll do something for me. I don’t know if it’ll do enough, but winning championships is always good. It shows different car owners and sponsors that you can win championships. I’m glad that we could win as many races as we did this year and win a championship. It’s tough to balance that, to race as hard as you can, but think about the bigger picture all year long,” concluded newly crowned champion Macedo.