Macenko Chasing Wins In Second 500 Tour Season

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CINCINNATI, Ohio – Jackson Macenko has a straightforward approach to his second go-round with the 500 Sprint Car Tour this year.

“It might sound silly to some, but for me, the first goal is to win a race,” Macenko told Motorsports Hotspot in advance of next weekend’s season-opening Glen Niebel Classic at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.

Macenko, a University of Cincinnati student and sophomore competitor with the Midwest’s top pavement non-winged sprint car series, placed seventh in points last season and finished inside the top 10 in all but one of his nine starts with Brad Hayes Racing.

However, his season-best result of fifth – which came at the Anderson quarter-mile last July – left the 20-year-old motivated and wanting more as he embarks on his second year of full-size sprint car racing.

“My confidence is at a much higher level than it was last season,” tipped Macenko. “That comes from a few different areas, but first and foremost, it’s because of the team I have around me. I fully believe in Brad, his crew, and their ability. I trust their knowledge, mechanical skill set, and determination to give me the greatest opportunity to succeed.

“I’m also much more confident in myself and eager to get going, because I believe that we have all the pieces in place to show even greater performance than we did last season.”

Part of that inner belief comes from an enhanced training regimen that Macenko has been dedicated to through the offseason, as he circled physical strength as an area that he knew he needed to improve on.

“I will always have extremely high confidence when it comes to speed and ability, but last season I really lacked the stamina needed to wrestle these cars in a few races,” Macenko explained. “I was out of shape for my standards. “This offseason, I’ve hit the gym hard and am in a much better physical shape than I was at the end of last year, and I believe that will be a key to success for our team.”


Jackson Macenko in action with the 500 Sprint Car Tour. (David Sink photo)

Though Macenko was consistently inside the top 10 for most of his rookie season, he admitted that he lacked “a bit of the edge” that made the difference between himself and the upper echelon of drivers that includes Kody Swanson, Bobby Santos III, and Kyle O’Gara, among other veterans.

His hope is that a touch of aggressiveness, combined with a more strategic approach to his races, will help close that gap and allow him to race in the top five and contend for race wins.

“I think the skills I truly learned that will help me were managing my equipment and race craft,” noted Macenko, an alumnus of the USSA Kenyon Midget Series. “In previous series, I’ve never had to truly manage my tires; I felt like I could be hard on them all race long because we often had shorter races and the horsepower was a lot less. With the sprint cars, however, you have so much power at your disposal that you can burn the rear tires off in just a handful of laps.

“Especially at bigger or more worn-out tracks like IRP [Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park], which seems to eat tires alive, it’s crucial to manage your equipment as the race goes on,” Macenko continued. “I don’t think my race craft was poor last season, just hesitant. I have watched a lot of GoPro footage of myself being cautious in making moves around slower cars and when battling for position, and I’m confident that won’t be the case this year.”

Macenko – a former lacrosse player and graduate of Elder High School, who serves as a coach for his old lacrosse team when time permits – also added some perspective that is similar to lessons he’d pass on during his coaching periods as well.

He noted that having his sight continually set on winning and improving is an approach that keeps him motivated and “on the attack,” no matter what discipline or style of race car he’s competing in.

“The way I look at it is, if a goal of mine isn’t to win, how hard will I truly work in the closing laps if I’m in a position to win?” mused Macenko. “On top of that though, I’d love to be a consistent competitor for podiums and top five [finishes], and the only way I’ll be able to do that is by striving to get better each and every time we hit the racetrack.”


Jackson Macenko (Jacob Seelman photo)

Of the 10 races on the 500 Tour calendar this season, which includes the 76th running of the Little 500 Sprint Car Classic at Anderson, the track that Macenko said he’s most eager to get to is Indiana’s Salem Speedway – a high-banked, lightning-fast .555-mile oval among the fastest short tracks in the country.

But he also knows that his foundation in the series was built by his rookie experiences, meaning he’s a stronger and more prepared driver going into the new season.

“There was a big learning curve for myself and my team last season,” said Macenko, who has driven for owner Brad Hayes since 2022. “It was new to all of us, as Brad had never owned cars outside of the Kenyon Midgets prior to last year. We knew going in that there would be challenges, but the way that we all worked together, we really clicked well.

“I feel like myself and the crew are always on the same wavelength and make a great team, and I’m excited to see what we can do together this year.”

Supporting Macenko and Brad Hayes Racing throughout the season are partners J.T.M Food Group, Brockman Signs, William Lang & Sons Co., Valley Interior Systems, Jet’s Pizza, Brogan Oil, American Scaffolding Inc., Ron's Roost, Schmoe’s Collision, Robert Jones Plumbing, Ecorsa Motorsport Oil, Victory Fuel, Advanced Racing Suspension, Vahlco Wheels, and Wilwood Disc Brakes.

Macenko will battle the rest of the 500 Sprint Car Tour field during the Glen Niebel Classic at Anderson Speedway on Sunday, April 14. The event was rescheduled from April 6 due to forecasted high winds and cold temperatures.

Every lap of the 500 Sprint Car Tour season can be streamed live through DIRTvision.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.